Tag Archive for 'congress'

ARTBA President & CEO Statement on the Passage of House Transportation Bill

American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane issued the following statement about the House passage of its multi-year highway and transit bill:

“The U.S. House of Representatives accomplished something today that it has not done in a decade: passage of a highway and transit bill that is more than two years in duration. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio deserve enormous credit for making it happen and in such a bipartisan manner.

“The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act helps end the eight-year cycle of short-term funding patches. It contains important provisions that renew focus on roadway infrastructure safety, improve the speed and efficiency in which projects are completed, and increase transparency in how the public’s tax dollars are invested.

“The bill, however, does not provide close to the investment levels the federal government says are necessary to maintain, let alone, improve conditions on the nation’s highways, bridges, and transit systems. And it does not include a long-term revenue solution for the beleaguered Highway Trust Fund.

“We urge members of the House and Senate to increase the investment levels in the final proposal that emerges from the conference committee. Absent a permanent Highway Trust Fund fix, the measure should also establish a bicameral, congressional task force with deadlines and consequences for Congress to finally develop a long-term plan to stabilize highway and public transit funding. Only then will America be able to begin building an infrastructure network that drives economic growth and boosts competitiveness in a 21st century global marketplace.”

New York Times 

Highway bill is approved by House

A six-year transportation-funding bill valued at more than $300 billion passed the House on Thursday with a vote of 363-64. The measure, which includes reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, will be reconciled with one that passed the Senate; a conference report is needed by Nov. 20. The House bill does not establish a permanent funding solution for the Federal Highway Trust Fund, and provides funds for only the first three years.

For the full New Your Times article: Click here

ARTBA Reports: State Analysis Shows Gas Tax Supporters
 Not Hurt at Ballot Box

d9cdad69-e8aa-4830-b455-58392c53ea55Voting for a gas tax increase to fund transportation investments has not hurt Republicans or Democrats at the ballot box, a new political analysis shows. c2a12953-6ea4-4a4f-9879-ef3b7f2d1285

Ninety-five percent of all Republican state legislators who voted to increase their state gas tax to fund transportation improvements in 2013 and 2014 and ran for re-election last November won their races.  That was a one percent higher winning percentage than that racked up by all state Republican legislators who voted against a gas tax increase during the prior two years.

On the Democratic side, 88 percent of state legislators who voted in favor of a state gas tax increase and ran last year were re-elected, as were 86 percent who voted “no.”

“This analysis shows two things members of Congress need to know,” American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane says.  “First, a bipartisan majority can be found to increase transportation investment if the leadership of both parties actually lead—rather than play politics—and give their colleagues a chance to vote.   Second, if legislators are honest with their constituents and clearly explain why a gas tax increase is necessary and important and what benefits their constituents will derive from it, they have little reason to fear the ballot box over a gas tax vote.”

Seven state legislatures passed a gas tax increase or its equivalent during the last election cycle, according to the analysis by ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center:  Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, Wyoming and New Hampshire.

Three of the states passing increases had a Republican governor and GOP control of both the House and Senate—Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wyoming.  Three had Democratic governors with party control of both legislative chambers—Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont.  New Hampshire had a Democrat as governor and a split party state legislature.

Republicans helped pass gas tax increases with 216 votes in six states, 34 percent of Republican state legislators in office at the time of the vote and 36 percent of Republican state legislators who cast a vote.  No Republican legislators supported the increases in Maryland and only one legislator supported the increase in Massachusetts.  All but eight who supported gas tax bills and ran for re-election won.

The analysis shows 384 Republicans voted against the gas tax measures in the seven states.  Of the 305 who ran for re-election, 19 lost.

Democratic state legislators cast 673 votes in favor of a gas tax increase, 82 percent of Democrats in office at the time of the vote and 87 percent of Democratic state legislators who cast a vote.  Of the 546 who ran for re-election, 68 lost.  Democrats cast 101 votes against a gas tax increase.  Of the 83 who ran for re-election, 12 lost.

A total 1,385 state legislators cast votes on gas tax measures, the analysis found.  Of those voting, 191 were registered as signing the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) state pledge “to oppose (and vote against/veto) any efforts to increase taxes”—180 Republicans and 11 Democrats.  Thirteen percent of the signees ignored the ATR and supported increased revenue for transportation improvements, the analysis found.  Only one legislator who defied the ATR and sought re-election was not returned to office.

d1d08f67-dfe6-4061-a2b6-346428195dd2 42d2c2ab-d0a5-4d01-bed9-b167f3046226 e42d3632-b710-4921-a999-8bb6a1e6023a

 

 

TRIP Reports: Deficient Roadways Cost Arkansas Motorists Approximately $2 Billion Annually. Costs Will Rise And Transportation Woes Will Worsen Without Funding Boost

TRIPRoads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Arkansas motorists a total of $2 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 Arkansas, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, “Arkansas Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that, throughout Arkansas, nearly a third of major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways and nearly a quarter of major rural roads and highways are in poor condition. Nearly a quarter of Arkansas’ 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, Arkansas’ traffic fatality rate is the fifth highest nationally and the state’s rural non-interstate traffic fatality rate is more than three times the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

Driving on deficient roads costs the state’s motorists approximately $2 billion 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. A breakdown of the costs statewide and per motorist in Little Rock area is below.

Arkansas 1The TRIP report finds that 32 percent of major locally and state-maintained urban roads in Arkansas are rated in poor condition and 42 percent are rated in mediocre condition or fair condition and the remaining 26 percent are rated good.   The report finds that 23 percent of major locally and state-maintained rural roads in Arkansas are rated in poor condition, 46 percent are rated in mediocre condition or fair condition and the remaining 31percent are rated good.

A total of 23 percent of Arkansas’ bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Seven percent of Arkansas’ bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 16 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.

Deficient roads cost-segments-Arkansas-Little Rock“Safe and well-maintained highways are critical to Arkansas’ economic development,” said Commissioner Robert Moore, of the Arkansas Highway Commission. “Poor roads and highways cost Arkansans money and, in some cases, lives. While, on the other hand, adequate funding to improve Arkansas highways creates private-sector jobs, improves our business climate, attracts new business and industry, and keep motorists safe.”

Traffic crashes in Arkansas claimed the lives of 2,849 people between 2008 and 2012. Arkansas’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.65 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is the fifth highest in the nation and significantly higher than the national traffic fatality rate of 1.13. Arkansas’ non-Interstate rural roads have a fatality rate in 2012 of 2.71 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, more than three times the fatality rate of 0.87 on all other roads and highways in the state.

The efficiency of Arkansas’ transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s 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 surface transportation program is a critical source of funding in Arkansas. From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.42 for road improvements in Arkansas for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fees. In July, Congress approved an eight-month extension of the federal surface transportation program, which will now run through May 31, 2015. The 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.

“These conditions are only going to worsen 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, Arkansas is going to see its future federal funding threatened, resulting in fewer road and bridge repair projects, loss of jobs and a burden on the state’s economy.”

ARKANSAS TRANSPORTATION BY THE NUMBERS:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility

Ten Key Transportation Numbers in Arkansas

$2 Billion

 

$1,674

 

Driving on deficient roads costs Arkansas residents $2 billion annually statewide. These costs include additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. In the Little Rock urban area, the average driver loses $1,674 annually as a result of driving on deficient roads.
#5 Arkansas’ traffic fatality rate of 1.65 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is the fifth highest in the nation.
5702,849 On average, 570 people were killed annually in Arkansas traffic crashes from 2008 to 2012, a total of 2,849 fatalities over the five year period.
3X The fatality rate on Arkansas’ non-interstate rural roads is more than three that on all other roads in the state (2.71 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.87).
32%23% Thirty-two percent of Arkansas’ major locally and state-maintained urban roads and 23 percent of the state’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition.
23 % A total of 23 percent of Arkansas bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Seven percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and 16 percent are functionally obsolete.
26 hours The average driver in the Little Rock urban area loses 26 hours each year as a result of traffic congestion.
$102 billion

$112 billion

Annually, $102 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Arkansas and another $112 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Arkansas, mostly by truck.
$1.42

 

From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.42 for road improvements in Arkansas for every dollar paid in federal motor fuel fees.
 

$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

Arkansas’ 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. Arkansas’ 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.

Deficient roads cost-segments-Arkansas-StatewideAs Arkansas 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 Arkansas’ 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 6.0 percent and with the state’s population continuing to grow, Arkansas 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 Arkansans. Meeting Arkansas’ need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require significant local, state and federal funding.

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 Arkansas.

An inadequate transportation system costs Arkansas residents a total of $2 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • TRIP estimates that Arkansas 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 $2 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 that the average Little Rock driver loses $1,674 annually as a result of driving on roads that have deterioration, are congested or lack some desirable safety features.

Arkansas 2

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

  • Arkansas’ population reached approximately 2.9 million in 2012, a 25 percent increase since 1990. Arkansas had 2,199,164 licensed drivers in 2012.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Arkansas increased by 60 percent from 1990 to 2012 – jumping from 21 billion VMT in 1990 to 33.5 billion VMT in 2012.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Arkansas is projected to increase by another 30 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2012, Arkansas’ gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 64 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

A lack of adequate local, state and federal funding has resulted in nearly a third of major urban roads and highways and nearly a quarter of major rural roads and highways in Arkansas having pavement surfaces in poor condition. These deteriorated conditions provide a rough ride and cost motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.

  • Thirty-two percent of Arkansas’ major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 42 percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition. Twenty-six percent are rated in in good condition.
  • Twenty-three percent of Arkansas’ major locally and state-maintained rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 46 percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition. Thirty-one percent are rated in in good condition.
  • More than three-quarters of major urban roads in the Little Rock area are deteriorated. Fifty-three percent of major urban roads in Little Rock are in poor condition and an additional 26 percent are in mediocre condition. Twelve percent of major roads in Little Rock are in fair condition and the remaining nine percent are in good condition.
  • Driving on rough roads costs Arkansas motorists a total of $1.1 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • 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 each Little Rock area motorist $902 annually per in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

Twenty-three percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in Arkansas 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.

  • Seven percent of Arkansas’ 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.
  • Sixteen percent of Arkansas’ 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.

Arkansas’ traffic fatality rate is the fifth highest in the nation. Improving safety features on Arkansas’ 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 2,849 people were killed in traffic crashes in Arkansas, an average of 570 fatalities per year.
  • Arkansas’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.65 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is the fifth highest in the nation. The national traffic fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel was 1.13 in 2012.
  • The fatality rate on Arkansas’ rural non-Interstate roads was 2.71 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012, more than three times the 0.87 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 Arkansas, 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 Little Rock urban area loses $545 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion.
  • The average commuter in the Little Rock urban area wastes 26 hours each year stuck in traffic.
  • The increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers. The increased levels of congestion 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 employees, and higher consumer costs.

The efficiency of Arkansas’ 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, $102 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Arkansas and another $112 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Arkansas, mostly by truck.
  • Eighty-three percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Arkansas 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.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number one site selection factor in a 2011 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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

  • If Congress decides to provide additional revenues into the federal Highway Trust Fund in tandem with authorizing a new federal surface transportation program, a number of technically feasible revenue options have been identified by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
  • Numerous projects have been completed throughout Arkansas since 2005 that relied heavily on federal funding, including the widening of portions of I-40 and I-540 and the replacement of a US Highway 82 bridge over the Mississippi River in Chicot County. Appendix A details projects completed since 2005 as a result of significant federal transportation funding.
  • From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.42 for road improvements in Arkansas for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees.
  • Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) has already suspended $60 million in planned construction projects due to the uncertainty of the future status of the Highway Trust Fund. Suspended projects include the replacement of the Highway 70 (Roosevelt Road) bridge and the Remount Road Bridge in Pulaski County, widening of five miles of Highway 167 in Independence County, and widening 1.5 miles of Highway 63 in Lawrence County. Further project suspensions and delays are anticipated until Congress resolves the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
  • Many needed projects in Arkansas will require significant federal transportation funds to proceed, including the Springdale Northern Bypass, construction of a new three-lane arterial to provide a north-south corridor in northwest Arkansas, and the reconstruction of 8.5 miles of I-440 in the Little Rock area. A full list of projects can be found in Appendix B.
  • A significant boost in investment on the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs, concluded a new report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
  • The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report found that annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase from $88 billion to $120 billion and from $17 billion to $43 billion in the nation’s public transit systems, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs.
  • The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report also found that the current backlog in needed road, highway and bridge improvements is $740 billion.

Sources of information for this report include the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD), 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).

A Summer Rerun, Kinda… Comments on the Infrastructure, Highway Bill and More

Site-K Editorial Staff

The following is scheduled to appear in the July issues of the ACP magazines but a blog in “The Hill” made me decide to run it now along with a link to that blog.  Basically, the blame game… well, you can read it yourself …

July editorial starts:

By the time you read this it will bee too late to make a difference, Congress will have been on its summer recess and back to work. We’ll know what they did with the highway bill that’s been hanging in suspension since September 2009 and has suffered through 9 or maybe 10 extensions.

Not long ago this came to me on the Internet from Reuter’s news services:

China is set to speed up spending on roads, railways and utilities to boost economic growth, the official China Securities Journal said recently, citing government economists.

“The increased fiscal spending on infrastructure, which has already started, will fall within Beijing’s framework of policy “fine-tuning” instead of another massive stimulus like the one Beijing launched at the end of 2008.

“Zhang Hanya, the head of China’s investment association, a think tank affiliated with China’s economic planning agency, was quoted as saying that boosting investment is the only choice for Beijing to bolster growth since consumption is always stable and exports are meeting overseas demands.

“Spending on roads, bridges, subways and airports will boom as investments in industrial facilities will worsen overcapacity and more property investments are discouraged by Beijing, Zhang said.

“’China has to rely on infrastructure investment to manage economic slowdown,” Zhang was quoted as saying.

“China’s economy grew at its weakest pace in nearly three years in the first quarter of 2012, with the annual rate of expansion slowing to 8.1 percent from 8.9 percent in the last quarter of 2011.”

The just the other day this came in from ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers):

“AN OFFER THAT CONGRESS CANNOT REFUSE?

“Surface transportation conference committee talks were very fluid this past week. On Tuesday, conference committee Chairman Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) hand delivered a draft conference report offer to conference leaders in the House of Representatives. The offer included the titles pertaining to transportation policy reform, but did not include any of the major sticking points, such as how to fund the transportation package or the Keystone Pipeline. House Republicans are now working on a counteroffer, which will hopefully be completed before the House leaves for recess next week.

“Boxer said that she and Senator Inhofe were well-received by conference committee Vice-Chairman John Mica (R-FL), however many House Republicans have since been quick to complain about how similar the offer is to the Senate passed MAP-21 legislation. House Democrats on the other hand have complained about not being included in the preparation of a counteroffer to the Senate.

“The House this week also voted on a series of non-binding motions to instruct conferees. The first motion, which passed, asked conferees to support a piece of the Senate bill that would guarantee each state receive at least 95% of combined Highway Trust Fund apportionments. The next motion, which failed, asked conferees to support a piece of the Senate bill intended to curb tax haven abuse. The final motion was the Broun (R-GA) language intended to tie Highway Trust Fund expenditures to revenues next year, in effect decimating surface transportation programs in FY13. ASCE has come out in strong opposition of the amendment, as has the Transportation Construction Coalition, and the US Chamber-lead American’s for Transportation Mobility, which are both coalitions ASCE is a member of. The motion will be voted on today.

“Finally, Chairman Boxer also expressed concern recently over comments that have come from Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Cantor was accused of making statements that there will be no more substantial legislative work in the House before the elections and that surface transportation programs should be extended. Speaker John Boehner reasserted his desire to complete a bill before June 30th after the news broke. However, later in the week Boehner said that if a deal is not completed by June 30th that the next extension should go until the end of the calendar year.”

And then I received this:

Pelosi: Republicans stalling on highway bill to kill jobs, hurt President Obama

By Mike Lillis

“The Democratic leader suggested the GOP is trying to delay transportation funding so it won’t stimulate the economy before November. House GOP leaders are stalling on the highway bill in order to eliminate jobs and damage President Obama’s reelection chances, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) charged on Thursday.

“The Senate in March easily passed bipartisan legislation reauthorizing transportation spending for two years, but conservatives objected to the size of package, leading House GOP leaders to champion a short-term extension instead.

“Pelosi, the Democratic leader, suggested Thursday that the smaller proposal is part of a broader GOP strategy to delay the transportation funding so it won’t stimulate the economy before November.

“’Why would they not bring it up?” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol. “Because I think that the Republicans in the House want to do nothing more than having extensions. Maybe they’ll do something right before the election, but it’ll be too late to create jobs.

“’If they do the extensions,” she added, “they’re using up the trust fund, the highway trust fund, they are hurting job creation — in fact people will lose jobs — and it’s just the wrong thing to do.”

What’s the point? The point is that we have had the tools to make our economy work; we are just lacking the serious desire to do so. It’s obvious that an investment in something like the highway bill would increase employment and stimulate spending for domestically produced goods used in domestic applications. There are hundreds of miles of roads in every state that need attention, the lack of which exacerbates the already bad situation making only worse.

Consider some of the comments quoted above. The problem is hard to ignore. You have to ask yourself, why has something that is so essential to our country, its infrastructure, become fair game for political rivalry. You really have to ask why the term bipartisan has been removed from our vocabulary.

Maybe I’m off base but I’ll bet we don’t get a highway bill of any value by the time you read this.

More on the Infrastructure:

On U.S. infrastructure, spend now, gain later

When the American Society of Civil Engineers issued a report card giving D and F grades for major infrastructure assets in the United States, the group estimated that it would cost $2.2 trillion to rehabilitate them. Even though these public sector assets support the private sector of the economy, and despite the availability of cheap money, Congress has no current plans to remedy this situation.

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/on-us-infrastructure-spend-now-gain-later/1234943

More on the Congressional buck-passing over the transportation bill

http://thehill.com/blogs/transportation-report/highways-bridges-and-roads/232607-highway-conference-leaders-trade-blame-for-negotiation-breakdown

Change of pace and direction:

Last month we did the “flasher routine” and exposed ourselves to you so you could see where we are going and why. Some of the changes have been implemented, others are being developed and still others need you or rather need your input.

Say buddy, can you lend us a hand?

What do we need? A picture of a job demonstrating the work being done; a few words describing the job; the location; your company name and your name. Keep the write-ups short because we’d like to run all the jobs that we get.  We’re going to call this ACP WorkZone USA. Send your job information to: Greg Sitek at workzone@acppubs.com

ACP WorkZone USA is YOUR section. It’s all about you and “your work zone,”what you’re doing. Big job, little job, it doesn’t matter, even if it’s your neighbor’s sewerline we want to know about it.

As for your thoughts, in every issue we will run a section, which we’ve named ACP OpinioNation. We’ll give you a couple topics and we’d like you to give us your opinion, an old fashion man-in-the-street type of survey. When you respond, please include a picture – mug shot type would be fine – your name and location. We started OpinioNation with these two topics:

Would a new multiyear Highway Trust Fund bill be beneficial to the industry, your local economy and the nation’s economy?

What kind of projects would be beneficial to the construction industry and local economy in your geographic area?

We’d like to add these two for this month:

Is social media – FaceBook, Twitter, Linkked In, etc. – useful and/or helpful in your business? If yes why and how?

What is the prinmary thing for which you most use the Internet – research, news, industry activities – in you business or profession?

Feel free to respond to any or all of the above topics. Don’t worry, if you don’t want us to include your name and/or photo we won’t but we would like to include your initials like, JR, Dallas, TX. Go ahead and stuff my mailbox and send your comments to:  Greg Sitek  at OpinioNation@acppubs.com

 

Asce Announces Legislative Fly-In 2012: Save The Date

Mark your calendars for March 20-22, ASCE’s 2012 Legislative Fly-In in Washington, DC.  We will be making some adjustments to the schedule from recent years!  Details, including application and registration information, are available on ASCE’s website.  Deadline for application submission is January 24th, 2012.

The Legislative Fly-In provides ASCE members with the opportunity to learn about public policy issues affecting the civil engineering profession, and to communicate the civil engineer’s perspective on those issues with elected officials on Capitol Hill.

The 2011 Legislative Fly-In brought over 200 civil engineers from 46 different states to Washington, DC.

• View pictures and information from the 2011 Legislative Fly-In.

Help us reach our 2012 goal of having all 50 states represented.