Tag Archive for 'bridges'

ARTBA Outlines for New Trump Administration Regulatory Reforms to Help Speed Transportation Project Delivery

More than 20 federal regulations and other policy actions are affecting, and in some cases, hindering the ability to complete transportation improvement projects efficiently, safely, in a timely manner and in the best interests of U.S. taxpayers, according to a comprehensive new report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

“Ripe for Reform: Federal Regulatory Issues Impacting Transportation Project Delivery” is aimed at assisting the incoming administration’s previously announced review of federal regulations, and has already been shared with transition officials. The recommendations were developed with input from ARTBA’s public and private sector members, and its state contractor chapter affiliates.

The association is also distributing the report to House and Senate transportation leaders and their staffs, and plans to share it with new federal agency officials following the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Citing President-elect Donald Trump’s oft-stated commitment to investing major dollars to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, ARTBA notes that “(l)essening the transportation construction industry’s unreasonable regulatory burden will maximize the value of the significant new dollars being invested in transportation improvement projects, unleash innovation in designing and building them, and take full advantage of job-creation possibilities.”

The compilation document addresses existing rules, proposed rules, guidance and executive orders currently in place, a flurry of which have been issued by the Obama administration. These include regulations and policies administered by the: U.S. States Department of Transportation (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, project labor agreements, hours of service); Environmental Protection Agency (Waters of the U.S., Clean Air Act standards); Department of Labor (silica exposure and recordkeeping); Department of the Interior (Endangered Species Act); and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (greenhouse gas).

Read the full report.

Established in 1902, ARTBA represents the U.S. transportation construction industry before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, courts, news media and general public.

TRIP Reports: Deficient Roadways Cost Montana Drivers $794 Million Annually.

 

Mdt Forecasts Annual Funding Shortfall Of Nearly $900 Million, Halting Or Delaying Projects Needed To Improve Conditions, Enhance Economic Development Or Improve Safety

Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Montana motorists a total of $794 million statewide annually – as much as $1,417 per driver in some urban areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national nonprofit transportation research organization. These high costs come at a time when the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) estimates it will face an annual funding shortfall of $874 million through 2021, causing many needed projects to be halted or delayed. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, relieve traffic congestion and support long-term economic growth in Montana.

The TRIP report, Montana Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Montana, 34 percent of major urban roads are in poor condition and nearly one-fifth of Montana’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The state’s traffic fatality rate is the third highest in the nation. Montana’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year.

The MDT estimates it will face an $874 million average annual shortfall through 2021 in the investment level needed to make further progress in improving road, highway and bridge conditions; improving traffic safety; and, completing needed modernization improvements to enhance economic development opportunities. As a result of a lack of transportation funding, MDT has delayed $144.5 million in road projects that had been scheduled to begin in 2017.

Driving on deficient roads costs Montana drivers $794 million 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 costs of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Billings, Great Falls and Missoula urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.

The TRIP report finds that 34 percent of major urban roads in Montana are in poor condition, while 40 percent are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 26 percent are in good condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs Montana drivers an additional $296 million each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

We’ve been talking about our failing infrastructure and lack of funding for a long time now and have very little to show for all that hand-wringing,” said Darryl James, executive director of the Montana Infrastructure Coalition. “It’s time for a little less talk and a lot more action.”

A total of 18 percent of Montana’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Eight percent of Montana’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional ten 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.

“The Montana Infrastructure Coalition is bringing a balanced package of bills supported by a broad spectrum of Montanans,” said Webb Brown, president and CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce.  “We expect some tough discussions but believe Montana’s lawmakers are ready to step to the plate and work on real solutions to these very real problems. We’re anxious to share our research and data to play a central role in that discussion.”

Traffic crashes in Montana claimed the lives of 1,024 people between 2010 and 2014. Montana’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.58 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is significantly higher than the national average of 1.08 and is the third highest in the nation. The fatality rate on Montana’s rural non-Interstate roads was 2.41 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2014, approximately three times higher than the 0.79 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.

“Our transportation system is truly the network that binds our communities together in Montana,” said Steve Arveschoug, executive director of the Big Sky Economic Development Authority. “Our economic security depends on smart investment in infrastructure and it begins with clean water and roads and bridges that are safe and efficient.”

Traffic congestion in Montana is worsening, costing the state’s drivers $170 million annually in lost time and wasted fuel.

The efficiency and condition of Montana’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $101 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Montana, mostly by truck. Sixty-seven percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Montana are carried by trucks and another 12 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.

“Conditions will worsen and additional projects will be delayed if greater funding is not made available at the state and local levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate investment, Montana’s roads and bridges will become increasingly deteriorated, inefficient and unsafe, hampering economic growth and quality of life.”

Executive Summary

Ten Key Transportation Numbers in Montana

 

 

 

$874 million

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) estimates it will face an $874 million average annual shortfall through 2021 in the investment level needed to make further progress in improving road, highway and bridge conditions; improving traffic safety; and, completing needed modernization improvements to enhance economic development opportunities.
 

50

This report includes information on 50 road, highway and bridge projects that currently cannot proceed due to lack of funding. These projects are needed to improve safety, support economic development opportunities and improve conditions in Montana.
$144.5 million The MDT has delayed $144.5 million in road projects that had been scheduled to begin in 2017 because of a lack of adequate funding.
 

32 percent

5th

25 percent

Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Montana increased by 32 percent from 2000 to 2015 –from 9.9 billion VMT in 2000 to 13 billion VMT in 2015. This was the fifth largest increase in VMT in the nation during that time. VMT in Montana is anticipated to increase by another 25 percent by 2030.
 

$794 million

Driving on deficient roads costs Montana motorists a total of $794 million annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.
$1,113 – Billings

$1,417– Great Falls

$1,152 – Missoula

 

TRIP has calculated the cost to the average motorist in the form of additional VOC, congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. Driving on deficient roads costs the average Billings urban area driver $1,113 annually, while the average driver in the Great Falls area loses $1,417 and the average driver in the Missoula area loses $1,152.
1.58

3rd

Montana’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.58 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2014 was the third highest in the U.S. and much higher than the national average of 1.08.
34% – Montana

30% – Billings

52% – Great Falls

26% – Missoula

Thirty-four percent of Montana’s major urban roads are in poor condition. In the Billings, Great Falls and Missoula urban areas, 30 percent, 52 percent and 26 percent of major roads are in poor condition, respectively.
$101 Billion Annually, $101 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Montana, mostly by truck.
 

18%

A total of 18 percent of Montana bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards. Eight percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and ten percent are functionally obsolete.

Nine years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Montana’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth in Montana, which is greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, has a significant impact on quality of life in the Treasure State.

An efficient, safe and well-maintained transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.

With an economy based largely on natural resource extraction, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism, the quality of Montana’s transportation system plays a vital role in the state’s economic growth and quality of life.

In the TRIP report, TRIP looks at the top transportation numbers in Montana as the state addresses modernizing and maintaining its system of roads, highways, bridges and transit.


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

To review the complete report visit:  www.tripnet.org

ABC Predicts Modest Growth for 2017 Nonresidential Construction Sector; Warns of Vulnerability for Contractors

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) forecasts a slowdown of growth in the U.S. commercial and industrial construction industries in 2017. While contractors are vulnerable to rising commodity prices and potential interest rate increases in 2017, the middling consumer-led recovery should still lead to modest growth in construction spending and employment.

“The U.S. economy continues to expand amid a weak global economy and, despite risks to the construction industry, nonresidential spending should expand 3.5 percent in 2017,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “For more than two years, the Federal Reserve has been able to focus heavily on stimulating economic growth and moving the nation toward full employment. However, as commodity prices, including energy prices, firm up and labor costs march higher, the Federal Reserve will need to be more concerned about rising inflation expectations going forward. Associated increases in interest rates could have significantly negative impacts on certain asset prices, including stocks, bonds, commercial real estate and apartment buildings.

“Contractors also should be prepared for increases in commodity prices, which could translate into further stagnation in construction spending volumes if the purchasers of construction services are not prepared for related cost increases,” warned Basu. “Additionally, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that construction job openings stand at a 10-year high and that average hourly earnings for construction workers rose above $28 per hour in 2016. The demand for construction workers is positioned to remain high and is likely to increase already significant wage pressures.

“However, there is a bullish scenario,” said Basu. “According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the average age of all fixed assets, including structures such as factories and hospitals, stands at 23 years—the oldest on record tracing back to 1925—and there is a collective awareness among American enterprises that they will need to replace much of their capital stock in future years. In addition, now rising energy prices could produce more investment and rising earnings—potentially translating into better support for asset prices, ongoing hiring and consumer spending.

“Despite some headwinds, many construction firms continue to report that they remain busy and ABC’s most recent Construction Confidence Index revealed that while construction firm leaders are not quite as confident as they were in prior quarters, most continue to expect growth in sales, margins and staffing levels,” concluded Basu.

Basu’s full forecast is available in the December issue of ABC’s Construction Executive magazine, along with the regional outlook for commercial and industrial construction by Dr. Bernard Markstein, president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducts state-level economic analysis for ABC.

As 2016 Fades Into History…

Baby & GIt’s been a long year but we survived it. The elections are over and the world is looking ahead to see what emerges and evolves.

As you might expect all the industry associations have published congratulatory statements to president-elect Donald Trump. I have participated in a Wells Fargo webinar that looked at the some of the possibilities we could expect in the coming year under a new administration. The projections are positive especially for our infrastructure.

ASCE – Civil Engineers Urge President-Elect Trump To Fulfill Vow To Invest In America’s Infrastructure

The following is a statement by Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E., F. SEI., F. ASCE, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), on the election of Donald J. Trump as the next President of the United States:

“The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) congratulates President-elect Trump upon his election and urges prompt action on his ambitious plan to repair and modernize our nation’s infrastructure and foster economic growth. Infrastructure is the very backbone of our nation’s economy, yet ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the nation’s infrastructure a cumulative grade of ‘D+.’ An economic study we released earlier this year found that the U.S. is on track to invest only half of what is needed in infrastructure over the next decade. A continued failure to act will result in significant consequences for our economy and for American families, who lose $3,400 a year due to aging infrastructure.

“If invested wisely, President-elect Trump’s proposed $1 trillion investment in infrastructure represents an important step toward closing the investment gap to raise the grade and achieve a globally competitive American infrastructure system fit for the 21st century. ASCE and its 150,000 members call on President-elect Trump and the 115th Congress to prioritize infrastructure repair, replacement, and modernization, to improve our economy, public health, and safety, so that every family, community, and business can thrive.”

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane Statement
on the Election of Donald Trump:

Pete Ruane

Pete Ruane

“President-elect Trump will have a ‘can do’ industry as his partner in rebuilding and expanding the nation’s transportation infrastructure to make it again second to none. Give us the proper resources and the new jobs and innovative solutions will take off.

“Republicans in Congress should heed the call of their party’s leader and make urgently-needed improvements of national infrastructure networks a top priority in early 2017.

“Despite a highly partisan political environment, Republicans and Democrats have routinely worked in a bipartisan manner to support infrastructure legislation.  All sides should view a long-term infrastructure package as an opportunity for the two parties to come together and make meaningful progress for the American people.”

Other industry associations and organizations have published similar statements. The timing couldn’t be better for CONEXPO CON/AGG 2017, Las Vegas, Nevada March 7-11, 2017.

Wells Fargo Reports: Infrastructure Spending and the Fiscal Multiplier

Wells_Fargo_Securities_logoInfrastructure spending is widely known to boost economic activity. However, the fiscal multiplier tends to be much larger during recessions, suggesting the late-cycle lift could be less than originally anticipated.

Infrastructure Fiscal Multiplier Low During Expansions

President-elect Donald Trump has proposed an infrastructure program of $1 trillion over the next 10 years (the Trump transition website notes $550 billion.) The American Society of Civil Indicator Title Engineers (ASCE) reports that the nation’s infrastructure is in “poor” condition and would require an estimated $3.6 trillion by 2020 to maintain a state of “good” repair, with only about half the needed funds committed (top chart).

Although details of the infrastructure program have yet to be published, two of Trump’s advisers provided a proposal in October (Ross, Wilbur and Navarro, Peter, “Trump Versus Clinton on Infrastructure,” Oct. 27, 2016). The plan includes $167 billion in equity investment, which is almost 17 percent of the total package. The equity portion would be supported by a tax credit equal to 82 percent of the equity. The remainder of the plan would be financed by debt. Based on the structure, critics of the plan suggest that investors will have little “skin in the game.” There is also recent talk about an infrastructure bank, which was included in the

While we await the details, discussion has also been centered on the impact to overall economic growth. Academic research finds that infrastructure spending, especially highway funding, has a positive effect on real GDP growth, which can be seen in the first two years and then a larger second- round effect after six to eight years (Leduc and Wilson, 2012). In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates, the multiplier for infrastructure spending for the American Recovery Indicator Titleand Reinvestment Act was larger than most other forms of government spending (middle chart). Literature also highlights the correlation between infrastructure spending and productivity growth in the U.S. and suggests that periods of weak public investment explains a good portion of the slow productivity growth (Aschauer, 1988) (bottom chart). These anticipated results are very promising, especially given slow productivity growth and low growth in potential output. However, the direct effect of infrastructure spending will be subject to long lags and will depend on the size of the fiscal multiplier.

A fiscal multiplier is the ratio of how much economic activity will increase for a unit of government spending. Studies show a wide array of multipliers based on a host of factors, with values ranging from 0.5 to 3.5 (Whalen and Reichling, 2015). The multiplier can also vary over the cycle. Research estimates a peak multiplier of 2.5 during recessions and 0.6 in expansions, with the gap due to stimulus crowding out private spending during multiplier for infrastructure spending is slightly less than two over a 10 year period (Leduc and Wilson, 2012), suggesting a $1.00 increase in spending raises output by roughly $2.00. That said, the infrastructure multiplier may be smaller during an expansion.

Source: ASCE, CBO, U.S. Department of Commerce and Wells Fargo Securities

1 Auerbach, Alan and Gorodnichenko, Yuriy. 2012a. “Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy.” American Economic JournalIndicator Title