Tag Archive for 'Alabama'

Interesting Events

By Greg Sitek

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to participate, live and digitally, in several events that have or will have an impact on our world. They involved asphalt, tires and mobility and the introduction of a new piece of equipment.

Mobility is at the heart of all our activities. It’s a basic human need, both social and economic, as well as
a powerful environmental constraint. The challenge that we must now meet is: provide good solutions for society and the planet and make them a level of responsible corporate development. Critical components of mobility are the construction industries – roads & bridges, rail, waterways, ports & terminals, buildings — residential, commercial, industrial, institutional – infrastructure. Without the construction industries paving the way society would become stagnant.

The bottom line is that “mobility” is an essential component in today’s world but mobility has to be done responsibly. In this issue is an article on Movin’On.

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) recently presented field test results for its LX1 prototype electric hybrid wheel loader to a group in California. Included were Volvo’s customer Waste Management, which carried out the field tests, CALSTART, which conducted emission tests on the machine, and the California Energy Commission, which helped fund the LX1 project. Since the end of last year, the LX1 has performed hundreds of hours of real work in two applications at Waste Management facilities in California.

The LX1 prototype cuts fuel consumption radically while delivering quiet reliable performance that leaves a small carbon footprint. A full-size diesel-electric loader?

Yes. You can see and listen to it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/BMPS3kWoAg8 and there is an article on it in this issue.

And then there was a webinar on a perpetual design software update.

The Asphalt Pavement Alliance introduced Version 4.3 of PerRoad Perpetual Pavement design software. Developed at Auburn University, PerRoad uses the mechanistic-empirical design philosophy to estimate stresses and strains that would prove detrimental for fatigue cracking or structural rutting.

PerRoad Version 4.3 incorporates recent research conducted on the Pavement Test Track at the National Center for Asphalt Technology at Auburn University and then validated with live traffic on Perpetual Pavement sections. The new features allow PerRoad to perform a conventional mechanistic-empirical (M-E) design to directly compare against Perpetual Pavement designs. It can also use strain distribution or a single endurance limit strain value to design a Perpetual Pavement.

“Perpetual Pavement designs allow us to limit distresses to the easily repaired surface,” stated David Timm, Ph.D., P.E., developer of PerRoad. “By coupling layered elastic analysis with a statistical analysis procedure, PerRoad helps a designer understand the layer thicknesses and other values that will ensure a long-life asphalt pavement.”

PerRoad, which is available for free from www.AsphaltRoads.org/PerRoad uses the mechanistic-empirical design philosophy. The program couples layered elastic analysis with a statistical analysis procedure (Monte Carlo simulation) to estimate stresses and strains within a pavement. Version 4.3 provides design results as percentile responses and as conventional designs with transfer functions.

Perpetual roads are…

Ten departments of transportation were named winners of the 2016 Perpetual Pavement Award by Asphalt Pavement Alliance (APA). The award celebrates long-life asphalt pavements that reflect the characteristics of a Perpetual Pavement design. The award is presented to state transportation departments and local agency road owners for well-performing asphalt pavements that are at least 35 years old with a proven high-quality structural design.

To earn the award, the pavement must not have suffered a structural failure, and it should have an average interval between resurfacing of no less than 13 years. The road must demonstrate excellence in design, quality in construction, and value to taxpayers. Engineers at the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) at Auburn University, evaluated the nominations and validated the results for this year’s Perpetual Pavement Award winners.

Since the Perpetual Pavement Award was first presented in 2001, 118 pavements in 30 U.S. states and one Canadian province have been honored with the award.

The states winning the 2016 award were: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington. For details visit: http://www.asphaltroads.org/news/post/asphalt-pavement-alliance-announces-winners-2016-perpetual-pavement-awards/

Technical Announcement:
Appalachian Basin Energy Resources — A New Look at an Old Basin

USGSNew Geological Compilation Available for Resource Studies and Land-Use Planning

Appalachian coal and petroleum resources are still available in sufficient quantities to contribute significantly to fulfilling the nation’s energy needs, according to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Appalachian basin, which includes the Appalachian coalfields and the Marcellus Shale, covers parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

“The study we conducted is a modern, in-depth collection of reports, cross sections and maps that describe the geology of the Appalachian basin and its fossil fuel resources,” said USGS scientist Leslie Ruppert, the study’s lead editor.

Petroleum resources, including oil and natural gas, remain significant in the Appalachian basin. Although both conventional oil and gas continue to be produced in the Appalachian basin, most new wells in the region are drilled in shale reservoirs, such as the famous Marcellus and Utica Shale, to produce natural gas.

The Appalachian basin contains significant coalbed methane and high-quality, thick, bituminous coal resources although the resource is deeper and thinner than the coal that has already been mined.

Although this volume is not a quantitative assessment of all notable geologic and fossil fuel localities in the Appalachian basin, the selected study areas and topics presented in the chapters pertain to large segments of the basin and a wide range of stratigraphic intervals. This updated geologic framework is especially important given the significance of shale gas in the basin.

This volume discusses the locations of coal and petroleum accumulations, the stratigraphic and structural framework, and the geochemical characteristics of the coal beds and petroleum in the basin, as well as the results of recent USGS assessments of coal, oil and gas resources in the basin.

Many of the maps and accompanying data supporting the reports in this volume are available from chapter I.1 as downloadable geographic information system (GIS) data files about the characteristics of selected coal beds and oil and gas fields, locations of oil and gas wells, coal production, coal chemistry, total petroleum system (TPS) boundaries and bedrock geology. Log ASCII Standard (LAS) files for geophysical (gamma ray) wireline well logs are included in other chapters.

USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas and coal resources of onshore lands and offshore state waters. This study of the Appalachian basin will underpin energy resource assessments and may be found online. To find out more about USGS energy assessments and other energy research, please visit the USGS Energy Resources Program website, sign up for our Newsletter, and follow us on Twitter.

http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=4163

TRIP: DEFICIENT ROADWAYS COST ALABAMA DRIVERS $1,562 ANNUALLY, TOTAL OF $3.1 BILLION STATEWIDE. COSTS WILL RISE AND TRANSPORTATION WOES WILL WORSEN WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT FUNDING BOOST

DEFICIENT ROADWAYS COST ALABAMA DRIVERS AS MUCH AS $1,562 ANNUALLY, A TOTAL OF $3.1 BILLION STATEWIDE. COSTS WILL RISE AND TRANSPORTATION WOES WILL WORSEN WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT FUNDING BOOST 

Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Alabama motorists a total of $3.1 billion statewide annually due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road and bridge conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Alabama, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, Alabama Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Alabama, 15 percent of major urban roads and highways are in poor condition. Nearly a quarter of Alabama’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And, Alabama’s rural non-interstate traffic fatality rate is nearly double the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

Driving on deficient roads costs state drivers as much as $1,562 per year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the cost of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculated the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in Alabama’s largest urban areas: Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.

TRIP AL 1Deficient-roads-cost-Alabama-4_areas“Those of us in the business community are painfully aware of the deficiencies in Alabama’s transportation infrastructure and the direct impact it has on our competitiveness,” said William J. Canary, president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama. “It is time to move together as a state to solve this problem and ensure a broad range of economic opportunities. Alabama’s future depends on it.”

A total of 23 percent of Alabama’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards.  Nine percent of Alabama’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 14 percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete, which means they no longer meet modern design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

Traffic crashes in Alabama claimed the lives of 4,435 people between 2008 and 2012. Alabama’s traffic fatality rate of 1.33 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.  The traffic fatality rate on Alabama’s non-Interstate rural roads in 2012 was 1.92 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, nearly double the 0.99 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel on all other roads and highways in the state.

“The importance of a long-term sustainable highway construction program is critical to the future of Alabama’s continued economic health.  The safety of the traveling public is just one part of the need for such a program,” said Billy Norrell, CEO of the Alabama Associated General Contractors.  “As our state highways and bridges continue to be strained by increased traffic and wear and tear, there is no choice but to inject additional resources into the system.  Current funding levels are restricting the department into more of a maintenance only organization, capable of less and less new capacity work.  We are confident our elected officials will make the difficult but proper choices when it comes to the future of Alabama’s infrastructure.”

The Federal surface transportation program is a critical source of funding in Alabama.  From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.32 for road improvements in Alabama for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fees. Congress recently approved an eight-month extension of the federal surface transportation program, which will now run through May 31, 2015. The recent legislation will also transfer nearly $11 billion into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to preserve existing levels of highway and public transportation investment through the end of May 2015. The following projects would require significant federal funding to proceed prior to 2019: the construction of several new routes in Montgomery, Birmingham, Anniston and Auburn to relieve congestion and provide for future growth, widening portions of US-80 in Sumter and resurfacing a portion of I-10 in Mobile. A full list of projects can be found in Appendix B.

“These conditions are only going to get worse if greater funding is not made available at the state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Congress can help by approving a long-term federal surface transportation program that provides adequate funding levels, based on a reliable funding source. If not, Alabama is going to see its future federal funding threatened, resulting in in fewer road and bridge repair projects, loss of jobs and a burden on the state’s economy.”

TRIP Report

ALABAMA TRANSPORTATION BY THE NUMBERS:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility

AUGUST 2014

Ten Key Transportation Numbers in Alabama

 

$3.1 Billion

Driving on deficient roads costs Alabama motorists a total of $3.1 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

$1,562$1,226$1,195

$1,218

TRIP has calculated the cost to the average motorist in Alabama’s largest urban areas in the form of additional VOC, congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. The cost for the average driver in each urban area is: Birmingham: $1,562; Huntsville: $1,226; Mobile: $1,195; Montgomery: $1,218.

8874,435

On average, 887 people were killed annually in Alabama traffic crashes from 2008 to 2012, a total of 4,435 fatalities over the five year period.

2X

The fatality rate on Alabama’s non-interstate rural roads is nearly double that on all other roads in the state (1.92 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.99).

$183 billion$189 billion

Annually, $183 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Alabama and another $189 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Alabama, mostly by truck.

23 %

A total of 23 percent of Alabama bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Nine percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and 14 percent are functionally obsolete.

35 hours28 hours28 hours

29 hours

The average driver in the Birmingham urban area loses 35 hours each year as a result of traffic congestion;  each Huntsville driver loses 28 hours each year; each Mobile driver loses 28 hours; and each Montgomery driver loses 29 hours.

$1.32 

From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.32 for road improvements in Alabama for every dollar paid in federal motor fuel fees

$1 billion=27,800 jobs An analysis by the Federal Highway Administration found that every $1 billion invested in highway construction would support approximately 27,800 jobs, including approximately 9,500 in the construction sector, approximately 4,300 jobs in industries supporting the construction sector, and approximately 14,000 other jobs induced in non-construction related sectors of the economy.
$1.00 = $5.20

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

 

Executive Summary

Alabama’s extensive system of roads, highways and bridges provides the state’s residents, visitors and businesses with a high level of mobility. This transportation system forms the backbone that supports the state’s economy. Alabama’s surface transportation system enables the state’s residents and visitors to travel to work and school, visit family and friends, and frequent tourist and recreation attractions while providing its businesses with reliable access to customers, materials, suppliers and employees.

As Alabama looks to retain its businesses, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, the state will need to maintain and modernize its roads, highways and bridges by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient and reliable mobility for motorists and businesses.  Making needed improvements to Alabama’s roads, highways and bridges could also provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access

With a current unemployment rate of 6.8 percent and with the state’s population continuing to grow, Alabama must improve its system of roads, highways and bridges to foster economic growth and keep businesses in the state. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility and quality of life for all Alabamans.  Meeting Alabama’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in local, state and federal funding.

Signed into law in July 2012, MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), has improved several procedures that in the past had delayed projects, MAP-21 does not address long-term funding challenges facing the federal surface transportation program. Congress recently approved the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, an eight-month extension of the federal surface transportation program, on which states rely for road, highway, bridge and transit funding. The program, initially set to expire on September 30, 2014, will now run through May 31, 2015. In addition to extending the current authorization of the highway and public transportation programs, the legislation will transfer nearly $11 billion into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to preserve existing levels of highway and public transportation investment through the end of May 2015.

Congress will need to pass new legislation prior to the May 31 extension expiration to ensure prompt federal reimbursements to states for road, highway, bridge and transit repairs and improvements.

The level of funding and the provisions of the federal surface transportation program have a significant impact on highway and bridge conditions, roadway safety, transit service, quality of life and economic development opportunities in Alabama.

An inadequate transportation system costs Alabama residents a total of $3.1 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • TRIP estimates that Alabama roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $3.1 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear), the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes.
  • TRIP has calculated the average cost to drivers in the state’s largest urban areas as a result of driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and lack some desirable safety features. The chart below details the costs to drivers in the Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery areas.

Trip AL 2Population and economic growth in Alabama have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system. 

  • Alabama’s population reached approximately 4.8 million in 2012, a 19 percent increase since 1990. Alabama had 3,827,522 licensed drivers in 2012.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Alabama increased by 53 percent from 1990 to 2012 – jumping from 42.3 billion VMT in 1990 to 65 billion VMT in 2012.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Alabama is projected to increase by another 30 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2012, Alabama’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 47 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in fifteen percent of major urban roads and highways in Alabama having pavement surfaces in poor condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs. 

  • Fifteen percent of Alabama’s major urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 35 percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 50 percent are rated in in good condition.
  • Roads rated in poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes.  In some cases, poor roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.
  • Driving on rough roads costs all Alabama motorists a total of $855 million annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • The chart below details the pavement conditions on major roads in the state’s largest urban areas.

TRIP AL 3Twenty-three percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in Alabama show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. 

  • Nine percent of Alabama’s bridges are structurally deficient. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency services vehicles.
  • Fourteen percent of Alabama’s bridges are functionally obsolete.  Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

Alabama’s traffic fatality rate is significantly higher than the national average.  Improving safety features on Alabama’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. It is estimated that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes. 

  • Between 2008 and 2012 a total of 4,435 people were killed in traffic crashes in Alabama, an average of 887 fatalities per year.
  • Alabama’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.33 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is significantly higher than the national traffic fatality rate of 1.13.
  • The fatality rate on Alabama’s rural non-Interstate roads was 1.92 fatalities per 100 vehicle miles of travel in 2012, nearly double the 0.99 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • Roadway features that impact safety include the number of lanes, lane widths, lighting, lane markings, rumble strips, shoulders, guard rails, other shielding devices, median barriers and intersection design.  The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical costs and emergency services.
  • Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features.  TRIP estimates that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
  • Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion.  Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and better road markings and traffic signals.
  • Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes.  A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior).   TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over the next 20 years.

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Alabama, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.

  • According to the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the average driver in the Birmingham urban area loses $773 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. The average commuter in the Birmingham urban area wastes 35 hours each year stuck in traffic.
  • Based on TTI methodology, TRIP estimates that the average driver in the Huntsville urban area loses $594 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. The average Huntsville commuter wastes 28 hours each year stuck in traffic.
  • Based on TTI methodology, TRIP estimates that the average Mobile-area driver loses $601 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. On average, Mobile commuters waste 28 hours each year stuck in traffic.
  • Based on TTI methodology, TRIP estimates that the average driver in the Montgomery urban area loses $604 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. The average Montgomery commuter wastes 29 hours each year stuck in traffic.
  • Increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers and can reduce the attractiveness of a location to a company to consider expansion or even to locate a new facility. Congestion costs can also increase overall operating costs for trucking and shipping companies, leading to revenue losses, lower pay for drivers and employees, and higher consumer costs.

The efficiency of Alabama’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Businesses are increasingly reliant on an efficient and dependable transportation system to move products and services. A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.

  • Annually, $183 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Alabama and another $189 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Alabama, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-six percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Alabama are carried by trucks and another ten percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.
  • Businesses have responded to improved communications and greater competition by moving from a push-style distribution system, which relies on low-cost movement of bulk commodities and large-scale warehousing, to a pull-style distribution system, which relies on smaller, more strategic and time-sensitive movement of goods.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number one site selection factor in a 2011 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • A 2007 analysis by the Federal Highway Administration found that every $1 billion invested in highway construction would support approximately 27,800 jobs, including approximately 9,500 in the construction sector, approximately 4,300 jobs in industries supporting the construction sector, and approximately 14,000 other jobs induced in non-construction related sectors of the economy.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

The federal government is a critical source of funding for Alabama’s roads, highways and bridges and provides a significant return to Alabama in road and bridge funding based on the revenue generated in the state by the federal motor fuel tax. 

  • Signed into law in July 2012, MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), has improved several procedures that in the past had delayed projects, MAP-21 does not address long-term funding challenges facing the federal surface transportation program.
  • Congress recently approved the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, an eight-month extension of the federal surface transportation program, on which states rely for road, highway, bridge and transit funding. The program, initially set to expire on September 30, 2014, will now run through May 31, 2015. In addition to extending the current authorization of the highway and public transportation programs, the legislation will transfer nearly $11 billion into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to preserve existing levels of highway and public transportation investment through the end of May 2015.
  • From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.32 for road improvements in Alabama for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees.
  • Federal funding has allowed the state to complete many needed transportation projects since 2005, including widening of several portions of I-65, rehabilitation of several sections of I-59, and widening and rehabilitation of portions of I-20. A full list of projects can be found in Appendix A.
  • Numerous transportation projects throughout the state would require significant federal funding to proceed prior to 2019. These projects include the construction of several new routes in Montgomery, Birmingham, Anniston and Auburn to relieve congestion and provide for future growth, as well as widening portions of US-80 in Sumter and resurfacing a portion of I-10 in Mobile. The list of projects can be found in Appendix B.
  • The Alabama Department of Transportation relies heavily on its allocation of federal funds to keep the state’s roads open and in an acceptable state of repair.  Without the annual allocation of federal dollars, the state would lose $170 million for Interstate maintenance (about 85 miles), $80 million for bridge replacement (about 40 bridges), $260 million for the resurfacing of state routes (about 850 miles), and $150 million in capacity improvements (new roads/added lanes).

Sources of information for this report include the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  

For the full report click here

Two Years Ago In April

RMG1aThe following article appeared online in Digging for Dirt 2 years ago this month. When I wrote it, right after having experienced a tornado’s temper tantrum up close, I didn’t expect to be leaving Tuscaloosa behind and here I am in Michigan 1,000 miles away.

Distance may separate me from Tuscaloosa but not the memories that night and the following, days, weeks, months and now years created. I wouldn’t have revived the article but an individual who I had interviewed for a job a long time ago came across it and remembered me. That person contacted me and commented on the piece. In light of the fact that I’m in Michigan, I had to go back and reread it.

Stealing words from a song, “… time goes by so slowly and time can do so much… “ (Unchained Melody) makes me realize that while we can leave a place it never leaves us. It is forever etched in the recesses of our mind. Tuscaloosa is on the mend. I took a reminding drive along the same route I traveled on that night to remember and to see the changes, never realizing that a contact from my past would virtually be doing the same thing.

In memory of all those who died, suffered and lost so much then; in recognition of all those who are and have been putting the lives and structures back together…

Siege Of Tuscaloosa Alabama

Thank you for caring and for your prayers, they certainly must work because we’re still here and have not suffered any damage. I was on the phone when the sirens started whaling and were then suddenly joined by the unmistakable rumbling freight train–like roar of what was an F5 tornado. The twister had just finished grazing in Arkansas and Mississippi before feasting on Tuscaloosa.

I commented, “OMG, we’re getting hit with another tornado,” when suddenly the phone went dead, the lights blinked on and off and joined the phone service in a state of suspended transmission. I waited. Usually the power is off for a few minutes and then comes back on but not on Wednesday. It was down for the count. I decided that since I couldn’t work or talk or watch an episode of Bones I’d go to the gym. I left and up to the point where I make a right onto a residential street named Kicker, everything seemed quite normal. Once on Kicker every thing changed and I suddenly found myself on an excursion down the River Styx into Hades.

Treetops were missing; telephone poles were gone, power lines were snaked across the pavement in an array of twisted confusion. Police were directing traffic deeper into the pits of hell. As I slowly passed the intersection I would normally have turned left onto for the gym, I saw ancient trees humbled and forced by 163 mph winds, to expose their now-naked root systems. Tuscaloosa’s underground had been uprooted. As far as I could see there was nothing left standing, either manmade or nature grown.

Carried by a current of chaos, I mindlessly meandered through this now new underworld, observing rescue workers cutting the serpentine power lines from their energy source to render them harmless; others were dismembering trees to clear the way while others were sawing power poles into manageable lengths. Overriding this cacophony — saws, machines, the crackling of still-live power lines, the blaring of horns and straining of engines — was the screeching shrill of sirens screaming for everyone to clear the way; amplifying the fact that theirs was a life or death mission. Over the next 2 hours I counted 35 ambulances.

If this wasn’t enough to traumatize my senses there were the reeking smells of disaster — burned lumber, rubber, plastic, garbage; gas rushing from ruptured lines; the unmistaken ozone smell of unleashed electrical energy.

Water escaping from broken waterlines celebrated its freedom by spewing a hundred feet into the black foreboding sky then crashing down, adding to the ever-growing mess accumulating everywhere. The trek down Tuscaloosa’s version of the River Styx finally brought me back to the upper world and onto University Boulevard. My lightened mood suddenly darkened when I discovered that I had escaped from one hell only to find myself in another. I knew that I was leaving Homer’s Hades and descending into Dante’s Inferno.

I would go a few hundred feet and be instructed to turn around only to find myself moving into even more disastrous realms. Tuscaloosa became a labyrinth. I found my self trapped in a maze of growing terror. Remember, I was not alone; I was alone in my car but a member of the mass that moved with me looking for an escape from this nightmare. I kept shouting to myself, “Wake up! Wake up! Wake up so this can end.” It still hasn’t…

After 2 hours I was finally able to get onto the interstate and creep for home. Tractor-trailers were the new debris that littered the median and right hand embankments.

After exiting the Interstate I got home traveling though dark abandoned streets. As I opened the door to my house my ever-faithful staff, Remus and Milli, greeted me. We shared the dark house and the silence that only a disaster can create. Although none of my clocks worked, time still moved ahead; after 26 hours the power blinked itself back on; slowly electronic life was restored to my TV, my phones, my computer and the Internet.

This saga continues. I am fortunate, blessed, lucky because I had no damage and more significantly suffered no family or friend losses. I suffered only inconvenience. For thousands of my neighbors the journey through Hades will last days, weeks, months, years and even forever. Pray for them, please…

 

Rental Inc. Provides Sales and Service to Customers in Panama City, Fla., and Opelika, Ala.

Bobcat Company expands its dealer network with the addition of Rental Inc. as an authorized sales and service provider for the Bobcat® product line. Rental Inc. will be selling Bobcat equipment at two locations: 127 Griffin Boulevard in Panama City, Fla., and 1870 Columbus Parkway in Opelika, Ala. The dealerships will be doing business as Bobcat of Panama City and Bobcat of Opelika, respectively.

Both locations will carry the entire Bobcat product line and all related attachments.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to carry such high-quality products,” said Joe Scherzinger, president. “We have already hired additional salespeople to focus solely on selling the Bobcat brand.”

In business since 2004, Rental Inc. specializes in the sales, service and rental of heavy construction equipment. Rental Inc. has a rental fleet valued at $25 million.

“Over the next few years, we plan to phase out over 90 machines from our rental fleet and replace them with Bobcat machines,” Scherzinger said.

For more information, contact the dealerships at (850) 236-2444 (Panama City, Fla.) or (334) 705-8998 (Opelika, Ala.).