Tag Archive for 'ARTBA'

ARTBA Reports:As Collapse of Federal Support for Highway & Bridge Investment Draws Near, More than 63,000 U.S. Bridges Need Structural Repair, New Analysis Find

image001Data from a new government report show that if all the structurally deficient bridges in the United States were placed end-to-end, it would take you 25 hours driving 60 miles per hour to cross them.  That’s like driving the 1,500 miles between Boston and Miami.  And it’s a problem that’s close to home.

An analysis of the 2013 National Bridge Inventory database recently released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) shows cars, trucks and school buses cross the nation’s more than 63,000 structurally compromised bridges 250 million times every day.  The most heavily traveled are on the Interstate system.

The problem could get a lot worse, the chief economist for the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) says, as states across the nation face a slowdown in reimbursements for already approved federal-aid highway projects in August.  Without congressional action, Dr. Alison Premo Black says there will be no Highway Trust Fund support for any new road, bridge, or public transportation projects in any state during FY 2015, which begins October 1.

“Letting the Highway Trust Fund investment dry up would have a devastating impact on bridge repairs,” Black says, noting the trust fund has supported $89 billion in bridge construction work by the states over the past 10 years.  “It would set back bridge improvements in every state for the next decade.”

“The bridge problem sits squarely on the backs of our elected officials,” Black says.  “The state transportation departments can’t just wave a magic wand and make the problem go away.  It takes committed investment by our legislators.  Members of Congress need to come to grips with that.  Some of our most heavily travelled bridges were built in the 1930s.  Most are more than 40 years old.”

Bridge decks and support structures are regularly inspected by the state transportation departments for deterioration and are rated on a scale of zero to nine—nine being “excellent” condition.  A bridge is classified as structurally deficient and in need of repair if its overall rating is four or below.

While these bridges may not be imminently unsafe, ARTBA suggests they be sign posted so the public knows they have structural deficiencies that need repair.

The ARTBA analysis of the bridge data supplied by the states to the USDOT found:

  • The 250 most heavily crossed structurally deficient bridges are on urban interstate highways, particularly in California.  With one exception, all are at least 39 years old.
  • Pennsylvania (5,218), Iowa (5,043), Oklahoma (4,227), Missouri (3,357) and California (2,769) have the highest number of structurally deficient bridges; Nevada (36), Delaware (56), Utah (117), Alaska (133) and Hawaii (144), the least.
  • At least 20 percent of the bridges in four states—Pennsylvania (23 percent), Rhode Island (22 percent), Iowa (21 percent) and South Dakota (21 percent)—fall in the structurally deficient category.

State specific bridge information from the analysis—including rankings and location lists of the 250 most heavily travelled structurally deficient bridges in the nation and 10 most heavily travelled in each state—is available in the “Economics” section of www.artba.org.

Established in 1902, ARTBA is the “consensus voice” of the U.S. transportation design and construction industry in the Nation’s Capital.

ARTBA Launches “Transportation Investment Advocate Center” To Help Move State & Local Campaigns

image001The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) recently announced the start-up of the “Transportation Investment Advocacy Center™” (TIAC), a first-of-its kind, dynamic education program and internet-based information resource.  The program is aimed at helping private citizens, legislators, organizations and businesses successfully grow transportation infrastructure resources at the state and local levels through the legislative and ballot initiative processes.

The cornerstone of the new program is the website, www.transportationinvestment.org.  ARTBA Chairman Doug Black says the site has been structured “so those interested in making action happen do not have to ‘re-invent the wheel’ to mount successful campaigns.” The idea, he said, is “to put in one place—and promote the sharing of—current strategies, sample political and communications tools, legislative and ballot initiative language, and information on where to obtain professional campaign advice, research and help.”

image003The transportationinvestment.org site features 39 detailed case studies of recent transportation funding campaigns—both successful and unsuccessful—mounted in 28 states.  It includes the actual television, radio and print ads, polling data, and media and coalition strategies used in the campaigns.  The site features a blog, which will be updated regularly with new developments and economic-based research and messaging developed by ARTBA to help frame the political debate.  An overview of funding and financing mechanisms utilized to support state and local transportation programs is also included.

Complementing the dynamic website site, the TIAC program includes an annual workshop to be held in Washington, D.C., and ongoing webinars for transportation investment advocates featuring case studies, best practices, and the latest in political and media strategies.

The inaugural “National Workshop for State & Local Transportation Advocates™” will be held July 16 at the Washington Court Hotel on Capitol Hill.  The workshop will be marketed to state and local chamber of commerce executives, state legislators, state and local transportation officials, “Better Roads & Transportation” group members, industry and labor executives, and leaders of state and local chapters of national organizations with an interest in transportation development programs.

The Transportation Investment Advocacy Center™ is a project of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s “Transportation Makes America Work!” (TMAW) program and funded through voluntary contributions and sponsorships. To become a sponsor or to make a contribution, contact TIAC staff directly through the website.

Established in 1902, ARTBA represents the U.S. transportation design and construction industry in the Nation’s Capital.

Meeting a Federal Highway Trust Fund Crisis: A Profile in Courage … and

ARTBAFebruary 28 is a special day in the history of the federal highway program and Highway Trust Fund that supports it.  On this day, 53 years ago, President John F. Kennedy (JFK) saw a threat to the nation’s future economic growth and security and grabbed the reins of leadership.

The year was 1961.  Americans were paying 27 cents per gallon for gasoline, including a 4 cents per gallon federal gas and diesel fuel tax to support capital investments though the federal highway program in their personal mobility and the nation’s economy and security.  The 2014 equivalents would be a 31 cents per gallon federal gas tax on a $2.11 gallon of gasoline.

“Our federal pay-as-you-go highway program is in peril,” JFK said in the first sentence of a “Special Message to the Congress on the Federal Highway Program” sent up to Capitol Hill that day.

The problem:  the user based revenue stream going into the Highway Trust Fund was not sufficient to sustain the level of authorizations necessary to keep the highway program running without going into deficit spending.  Kennedy told the Congress $900 million more dollars per year ($7.04B in 2014 dollars) was necessary.

“Our objective,” Kennedy said, “is to finance this program on a pay-as-you-go basis from… user taxes… at rates sufficient to pay the full cost of the program, without charge on general federal revenues… “The pay-as-you-go principle… requires an increase in the revenues from user taxes…”

It is clear, he said, “that a program essential to the nation, and to [the public’s] own welfare, requires that they cooperate in determining how present sources are to yield the additional revenues needed.”

Kennedy offered what he called “A New Plan to Finance the Highway Program.”  He urged Congress to sustain the federal gas tax revenue stream and increase the user fees on trucks—the federal diesel fuel excise increased from 4 cents per gallon to 7 cents; truck weight excise for vehicles over 26,000 lbs. from $1.50 per 1,000 lbs. to $5.00 per; the excises on sale of new tires from 8 cents per tire to 10 cents, the sale of tire inner tubes from 9 cents per to 10 cents, and tread rubber from 3 cents to 10 cents.

On June 29, 1961, the 87th Congress of the United States responded, approving the “Federal Aid Highway Act of 1961,” (Public Law 87-61), generally following the path outlined by the President.

The Highway Trust Fund crisis was averted.  Filling out and construction of the 41,000-mile Interstate Highway System and ongoing improvements to the 848,677 miles of state roads deemed worthy of federal investment due to their importance to the nation’s economy and security continued forward.   No American jobs were lost.

Footnote:   Despite claims to the contrary, the federal gas tax is not “broken” or “outmoded” as a mechanism to raise user revenue for the Highway Trust Fund.  The only problem with the gas tax as a revenue generator is that the rate has been frozen for 20 years and the rate has never been indexed, or adjusted, to keep pace with annual price inflation or to meet identified needs.  It is a fact that if Congress had indexed the 1961 federal gas tax rate of 4 cents per gallon to future annual inflation, the gas tax alone would be generating almost $56B this year for Highway Trust Fund investments.  There would be no 2014 HTF crisis looming October 1 that could shut-off federal investment for any new state transportation department highway, bridge and transit projects during FY 2015.  It is also a fact that today’s 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax has 50 percent less purchasing power than the 4 cents per gallon tax had in 1961.

Trust Fund in Crisis

New Silica Proposal Relies on Flawed Economics, ARTBA Tells OSHA

ARTBA NewsA proposed Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulation concerning exposure to crystalline silica is based on decades old data and flawed economics, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) says.

At issue is OSHA’s plan to regulate the worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica.  Crystalline silica is found in nearly all transportation construction materials and products and can even be found naturally in the ambient air.

In comments submitted to OSHA February 11, the association contends the agency is attempting to set crystalline silica exposure limits at levels which are unworkably low.  Specifically, ARTBA pointed to studies OSHA relied upon in formulating the new rule which date back to the 1930s, and do not take into account both technological and modern safety advancements that have dramatically reduced the negative health effects from crystalline silica exposure.

ARTBA noted OSHA might be doing more harm than good with its proposal, citing portions of the rule that could require workers to wear respiratory devices.   “When coupling the necessity of strenuously working in high heat, amongst heat generating materials while wearing a respirator, OSHA is creating a significant, real danger to human health that far exceeds the potential hazard from silica exposure,” ARTBA said.

The association’s comments also took aim at the basis of OSHA’s economic analysis, noting the agency’s source information is difficult to verify and “the true per company cost of meeting the proposed standards” was unknown.  “By averaging the cost of compliance across all workers, this could potentially understate the costs of compliance for businesses that could not meet the new standard,” according to ARTBA.

The full text of  the comments can be found in the “regulatory affairs” section of www.artba.org.

Established in 1902, ARTBA is the transportation construction’s primary advocate on environmental and regulatory matters in the Nation’s Capital.  ARTBA files an average of 25 sets of regulatory comments per year representing the views of the transportation construction industry on a variety of issues.

Highway Trust Fund Fix Will Be “Painful Scenario” Without New Revenue, ARTBA Tells Senate Committee

image001Fixing the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) without generating any new revenue would require the equivalent of Congress passing and the president signing a 2013-level Murray-Ryan budget deal every year just to maintain current highway and transit program investment levels, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President Pete Ruane Feb. 12 told a Senate panel. 

According to a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, the HTF will be unable to support any investments in new projects come September, and will require, on average, $16.3 billion annually just to preserve the current transportation program.  By comparison, over a two-year period, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013—the Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) budget deal—reallocates resources to increase the non-defense discretionary spending cap by an average (ironically) of $16 billion per year.

Calling that process a “painful scenario,” Ruane warned the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee that if the HTF shortfall is not addressed, more than 12,000 highway, bridge and safety capital projects across the nation—on the routes most important to the U.S. economy—could be lost.

Ruane noted that trucks carry freight worth more than $11 trillion over the nation’s roads and bridges every year, and nearly 75 percent of that travel takes place on the federal-aid system.  “Without that federal investment in these roads, trucking mobility and economic productivity are at risk,” he said.

Ruane explained ARTBA’s economics team set about to research how the public’s federal gas tax dollars were put to use in 2012.  Unfortunately, it took a Freedom of Information Act request and sophisticated computer analysis of literally millions of data points to get answers.

Among the highlights he said the public deserves to hear:  the federal program helped fund 12,546 capital improvement projects (7,335 road, 2,407 bridge, and 2,804 road safety)—all focused primarily on the system that moves most of that $11 trillion.

“There are projects in every state.  Every one of them can be identified by name, and location, and by how much was invested in them,” he said, acknowledging that more transparency is needed so the public understands where its tax dollars are invested.

“We believe one of the federal program’s biggest problems is that government at all levels does a poor job of telling the American public how their federal gas and diesel tax dollars are invested each year,” Ruane added.  “We believe the public would be impressed and widely support this federal program if they knew the full story.”

He told Senators the average American household spends roughly $160 per month for cell and landline phone service, and only $46 per month through state and federal motor fuels excises to support the road, bridge and transit systems they depend on every day.

 

“If the public was asked to invest each month as much as they willingly spend on cell and landline phone service, we would not be here talking about the Highway Trust Fund problem.  We would be providing Americans with the first-class transportation network they deserve,” Ruane concluded.