Tag Archive for 'ARTBA'

ARTBA Says New Federal Banking Rules Will Exacerbate Problems Caused by Highway Trust Fund Uncertainty

image003The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) says new federal banking rules announced August 3 “will further impede state transportation planning and investments across the nation.”

Rules just approved  by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will preclude banks from using municipal bonds to comply with new liquidity standards.

“This decision will increase the financing cost of infrastructure projects for state and local governments by imposing a constraint on the market for municipal bonds,” ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane says.  “That could also adversely impact development of public-private partnerships for transportation projects.”

In a letter to the Congressional leadership, Ruane urged they use the new banking rules “as another motivator to do what the vast majority of your colleagues have acknowledged needs to be done—develop a long-term, sustainable revenue solution to permanently stabilize the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and support future state investments in transportation improvements.”

Ruane noted the temporary revenue patch for HTF-funded programs approved by Congress in July means the fund now faces another revenue shortfall “at the beginning of the 2015 construction season.”

Action on a long-term HTF revenue solution, Ruane wrote, “does not need to wait until May 2015.”

 

 

ARTBA’s Highly-Rated Project Delivery Academy Set for Oct 15-17 in the Nation’s Capital

image007The increased use of alternative project delivery methods such as Design-Build (DB) and Construction Manager-General Contractor (CMGC) by transportation agencies present new opportunities and challenges for transportation design and construction industry executives.  The American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) Foundation has a professional development program, taught by a nationally-recognized engineer, to help ensure industry professionals have a comprehensive understanding of both delivery methods.

The Project Delivery Academy (PDA), built around the highly successful adult learning model of instruction by industry experts and supported by peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, is scheduled for October 15-17 at ARTBA’s headquarters building in the Nation’s Capital.  It is designed for project managers, procurement personnel and contractors.

The PDA will be led by Dr. Douglas Gransberg, an Iowa State University professor with more than 35 years of experience.  He is a designated design-build professional and owner of a construction management/project delivery consulting firm.  He helped write the book on alternative project delivery methods, co-authored the “AASHTO Guide for Design-Build (DB) Contracting,” and the “AASHTO Guidelines for Construction Manager General Contractor Project Delivery.”

Dr. Gransberg’s instruction will cover four core areas:

·         Procurement models/contract structure;

·         Project pricing provision models;

·         Developing responsive submittals to requests for qualifications (RFQ) and/or requests for proposals (RFP); and

·         Post-award contract administration.

Registration is $1,999 for ARTBA members.  More than 20 Professional Development Hours are available.  Contact ARTBA’s Kashae Williams for more information at kwilliams@artba.org or 202.289.4434.

The ARTBA-TDF is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt entity to promote research, education and public awareness.  It supports an array of initiatives, including educational scholarships, awards, roadway work zone safety and training programs and special economic reports.

ARTBA President Reacts to Congressional Developments Relating to the Highway Trust Fund

image002The following statement is from American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane:

“While we appreciate the efforts of the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees to move forward this week on their respective plans to keep federal transportation funds flowing to the states, these actions must not be the latest ‘punt and leave the stadium’ strategy that has plagued the federal surface transportation program for far too long.

“The Highway Trust Fund has been limping from crisis to crisis for the past six years as America’s transportation network continues to decline.  Therefore, our message to Congress is simple: your job isn’t close to being done.

“It’s incumbent upon lawmakers in the House and Senate, and officials from the Obama Administration before the end of 2014 to develop a long-term and sustainable Highway Trust Fund solution that supports future transportation capital investments.  Anything less ignores the fragile state of our nation’s economy and does a great disservice to the tens of millions of American motorists, businesses, and workers who rely on the transportation network every day to support their livelihoods.”

ASCE Reports on Gas Tax Increase, Highway Trust Fund Shortfall, Important Bill Stall

Our transportation infrastructure has become a major issue as current funding faces a serious shortfall. More than halfway through the year and most road repairs are still waiting to be started let alone completed. If the country faces another winter like the one that just passed, we’ll need tanks or half-tracks to navigate the pot-hole dominated transportation infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) as well as other associations, such as American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), are growing more concerned as Congress continues to battle over possible solutions to this problem.

Over the years a number of solutions have been proposed and all have been rejected because party politics are more important than user needs. ASCE has posted a number of statements on this situartion.

{08d819bc-1d22-4dd2-80f4-4bea43d54eb4}_ASCE_GovernmentRelations_WashingtonBipartisan Senate Duo Calls for Gas Tax Increase

U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bob Corker (R-TN) released a plan on Wednesday to raise the federal fuels tax and index it to inflation. Their proposal would increase the gasoline and diesel fuel tax (currently at 18.4 cents and 24.4 cents per-gallon, respectively) by 6 cents per gallon in each of the next two years, for a total rise of 12 cents, and index that tax to inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The plan would also include a tax relief offset to minimize the fiscal strain placed on consumers and businesses from any future rate hike. ASCE Executive Director Patrick Natale, P.E., applauded the announcement, calling it, “an encouraging step to improve our economy and raise the grades on the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure.” It is estimated that the proposal would raise enough revenue to fund federal surface transportation programs at current levels, and provide for a very slight increase in the out years because of indexing.

Late last year, ASCE supported legislation introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), H.R. 3636, the “UPDATE Act of 2013,” which would increase the fuels tax by 15 cents per gallon over the course of three years and also index it for inflation. This Congress marks the first time, in a long time, that both the House and Senate have openly discussed, and had members endorse, increases in the federal gas tax. Prospects of this Congress actually enacting such a measure remain unclear, though the best chance may be in the interim legislative period known as the “lame duck” session which begins after the November election and could stretch until the end of December. ASCE will continue to urge Congress to enact legislation that provides a significant, long-term sustainable funding source for surface transportation programs and projects.

New Report Looks for Solutions to the Highway Trust Fund Shortfall

On Wednesday, joining a chorus of advocates looking to move on the Highway Trust Fund, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) released a new report looking for solutions.

In the paper, CRFB calls for a long-term solution, which brings highway spending and revenue in line. Short of that, they also suggest that transferring money into the Trust Fund from general revenue would be acceptable if and only if that transfer is fully paid for with other spending cuts or revenue increases. The paper includes a huge number of potential options to help close the Highway Trust Fund shortfall that help add to the policy debate on Capitol Hill.

Read the report

Senate Debate on Combined Transportation, Science Appropriations Bill Stalls

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate pulled three fiscal year (FY) appropriations bills – Commerce, Justice and Science; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; and Agriculture – from the floor because there was not agreement on how to proceed with votes over amendments. The Senate had originally planned to debate the bills into next week with hope of speedy passage. The U.S. House of Representatives has already held votes on Commerce, Justice and Science, and Transportation, but has not yet passed Agriculture.

On Transportation, the House approved legislation to fund the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) at a slightly lower amount than is contained in the Senate bill. Both the House and Senate provide $40.3 billion for highways, and the House provides $600 million less for transit, $450 million less for TIGER grants, $130 million less for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and $200 million less for Amtrak.

The Commerce, Justice and Science section provides a total of $51.2 billion in proposed discretionary budget authority for programs at the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This is a decrease of $398 million below the fiscal year 2014 level and is funded at the same amount as the bill that cleared the House, although the two chambers’ versions differ in details. Specifically, the Senate bill provides:

• $7.2 billion for NSF, an increase of $83 million over fiscal year 2014. The House version provides $7.4 billion.
• $900 million for NIST, $50 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. The House version contains $856 million for NIST.
• $17.9 for NASA, $254 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. The House version also funds NASA $17.9 billion.

Should the Senate quickly resume debate and adopt these appropriations bills and should the House approve Agriculture, there exists sufficient time before the August recess for both chambers to remedy any differences and enact legislation on-time before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1. However, if recent history is any indicator, it is more likely that an appropriations patch, or “continuing resolution”, of some short-term length will be required this fall.

ASCE has been urging Congress to agree on a fix for the Highway Trust Fund which is facing insolvency in the next couple of months. Appropriations bills and current enacted funding levels will be inadequate to prevent a funding crisis if there is not enough money in the trust fund to provide project reimbursements. That is why ASCE is urging the public to act now and tell their Members of Congress to “Fix the Trust Fund“.

ARTBA CEO on the Passing of Former House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.)

image001by Beth McGinn               

The following statement is from ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane:

Jim Oberstar

Jim Oberstar

“Jim Oberstar was the epitome of a statesman. He truly believed good policy made good politics

“For more than 40 years, Jim combined an encyclopedic knowledge of intermodal transportation issues with a practical ability to forge consensus among parties with divergent perspectives.
The end result is a long, unmatched list of legislative achievements in the transportation arena.

“In the air, he fought for safer airline cabins, adequate emergency exits, and floor-proximity directional lighting. On the ground, he was a driving force and author of historic federal highway, bridge, and public transportation investment laws in 1991, 1998 and 2005. His goal always was to make travel in the U.S. more safe, efficient and accessible for all Americans.

“On a personal level, I was honored to have known Jim since 1972 and proud to call him a friend. He was a kind and generous man with a booming laugh, had a strong commitment to his family, and an ability to keep you captivated with his story-telling. The palpable sense of joy on his face when he talked about his children and grandchildren will not be forgotten.

“The membership of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association extends its deepest sympathies to Jim’s wife, Jean, and to the entire Oberstar family. He will be missed.”