Tag Archive for 'economy'

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A Little Road Work

A Little Road Work

By Greg Sitek

Greg Sitek

What’s going to happen on September 30, 2020? The FAST Act — Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act — is scheduled to expire?

Will it?

If it does will it make a difference?

The American Road and Transportation Builders Association is working overtime to develop information and materials that can be used to guide the committees and congressional overseeing the reauthorization program and has taken a leadership role in informing the  industry and public as well.

Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA reports,ARTBA’s “Project 2019 Reauthorization Task Force,” comprised of 26 volunteer leaders from all eight-membership divisions, developed the industry’s legislative blueprint for the next highway and transit bill. The ARTBA Board unanimously approved the thoughtful and comprehensive policy report in May.

Visit ARTBA at artba.org to view a digital copy of the 32-page report, “The Road to the Next Federal Highway & Public Transit Investment Bill.”

Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA says that ARTBA President and CEO Dave Bauer July 11 told members of the House Democratic Caucus to include a Highway Trust Fund revenue solution as part of any infrastructure legislation this year. Bauer reminded the members of Congress of the reliance states have on the federal transportation programs for highway construction spending.

The map above, created by ARTBA staff using Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) data, was distributed to the members. It shows states, on average, depend on the federal government for 51 percent of their highway construction programs.

The closed-door session featured other business and labor executives who also emphasized the need to address the long-term solvency of the trust fund. Members of Congress who spoke touched on the need to get a robust infrastructure package completed, as well as the various options for funding and financing transportation investments. Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) organized the meeting.

A comprehensive infrastructure bill in the House of Representatives has yet to materialize, though discussions between the White House and the Congress are reportedly ongoing. The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee is pushing ahead on the reauthorization of a surface transportation bill, with a mark-up of a bill scheduled for Aug. 1.

Again, ARTBA’s Dean Franks adds,The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee traded priorities for an upcoming surface reauthorization bill during a July 10 hearing.  Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) was the first to reference those users of the system should be the ones to pay for the infrastructure investments and particularly mentioned the need for electric vehicle drivers to begin paying into the system. Ranking Democrat Tom Carper (D-Del.) said, “I have always believed that a long-term focus on national needs must include identifying new source of sustainable, user-fee base revenues to support investments in transportation.”

Barrasso also publicly announced for the first time that the legislation the committee is drafting would be a five-year bill. The two committee leaders said they want to pass a bipartisan bill out of committee before the Senate adjourns for the annual summer work period. An Aug. 1 target has been set for consideration in the committee.

This will be the first action on a surface transportation law since enactment of the FAST Act in December of 2015. That law, which expires in September 2020, required $70 billion in General Fund transfers and unrelated offsets to help pay for the bill.

The EPW committee has jurisdiction over the highway policy provisions of a surface transportation authorization process, while three other committees will need to weigh in on public transportation, trucking, rail and tax issues.

ARTBA will continue working with Barrasso, Carper and all committee members to get a bill with increased and growing investment levels approved out of committee as soon as possible.

In the “summer driving season” editorial by The Washington Post, it points out,‘States Are Doing It. So Why Hasn’t Congress Increased the Federal Gas Tax?’
On July 1, gas taxes went up in 13 states, not only blue ones such as California and Illinois, but also red ones such as Indiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Roads, the importance of roads and transportation goes back to The Appian Way or Via Appia Antica in Rome, one of the most famous ancient roads. It was built in 312 B.C. by Appius Claudius Caecus. … Roman roads and especially the Appian Way were extremely important to Rome. It allowed trade and access to the east, specifically Greece. The importance of roads hasn’t changed; it’s become paramount to our way of life.

Maintaining our transportation infrastructure isn’t an expense it’s an investment.

ARTBA Reports: A Big Week for Regulatory Reform

By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

The Trump administration this week announced three regulatory measures with significant impact for ARTBA members:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a request for information asking the regulated community to help clarify various aspects of the crystalline silica rule.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released proposed changes to the federal Hours of Service (HOS) rules, which govern the amount of time truck drivers can spend on the road.
  • An overhaul of the Endangered Species Act includes new limits to where the government can block development by declaring land as “critical habitat.”

“These three developments highlight the administration’s continued focus on removing unnecessary regulatory burdens from the project delivery process,” said ARTBA Vice President of Regulatory & Legal Issues Nick Goldstein. “ARTBA will continue to work with federal agencies to keep advancing beneficial regulatory reforms.”

ARTBA also expects in the coming weeks to hear from the U.S. Department of Transportation about the potential repeal of a federal regulation that prohibits state and local governments from using patented or proprietary products on highway and bridge projects that receive federal funding unless those products qualify for limited exceptions. The rule was adopted in 1916 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which then managed the emerging federal-aid highway program.

Additionally, the administration is expected to continue to move forward on the repeal and replacement of the “waters of the United States” rule.

Click the links in the three bullet points above to read more detailed stories about this week’s regulatory developments.

ARTBA Announces Schapker As New Vice President of Legislative Affairs

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) announced the hiring of Lauren Schapker as vice president of legislative affairs, a newly created position. She brings to the association nearly 15 years of experience in infrastructure policy issues.

As one of ARTBA’s primary advocates on Capitol Hill, Schapker will work with legislators and their staffs to boost federal transportation investment, secure a permanent Highway Trust Fund revenue solution and advance other transportation construction industry priorities.

Schapker spent five years at the Portland Cement Association (PCA) beginning in 2009.  She led the organization’s transportation portfolio through the MAP-21 surface transportation law. She oversaw PCA’s grassroots and political efforts, both of which grew significantly under her leadership.

Schapker left PCA in 2014 to open the Washington, D.C., office of the National Ground Water Association (NGWA). For nearly five years, she directed both legislative and regulatory portfolios on a range of infrastructure matters, increasing NGWA’s profile with key stakeholders and national media. She helped establish the nation’s first groundwater monitoring network, restore tax credits for renewable energy technologies and improve the regulatory climate for rural infrastructure projects.

Schapker began her career at the public affairs and government relations firm Xenophon Strategies, where she focused on transportation and infrastructure issues.  She represented cities, counties and school districts seeking federal assistance for infrastructure projects.  Her efforts helped secure funding in annual appropriations legislation and policy changes in surface transportation and water resources authorization bills. She also led Xenophon’s political fundraising.

A native of Cincinnati, Schapker has a B.S. in finance and an M.A. in political science from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She and her husband reside in Alexandria, Va.

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

ARTBA Sends Grassroots Call-To-Acton Memorandum to Members

A bipartisan group of 21 U.S. Senators this week voted unanimously to reauthorize the federal highway and bridge program A YEAR EARLY and with the largest increase in core highway investment IN 15 YEARS.

The Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee July 30 approved “America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act” (ATIA), S. 2302, which would set federal highway, bridge and highway safety investment and policy through 2025.

Read ARTBA’s analysis of ATIA for more details.

The magnitude of this first step cannot be overstated, but there is no time for a victory lap. We need to get to work.

Senators are in recess for the remainder of August and should hear from you that you support ATIA and want them to work to ensure the bill moves forward THIS YEAR.  Here’s what you can do:

  • Schedule a face-to-face meeting at the appropriate state office.
  • Invite your senators to your headquarters or job site so they can see first-hand the real-world economic, job creation, quality of life and safety impacts of transportation investment.
  • Send an email or tweet in support of the bill via ARTBA’s Grassroots Advocacy Center.
  • Attend a town hall meeting and ask your senators to permanently fix the Highway Trust Fund and support final action on ATIA this fall.

When you meet with your senators:   

  • Tell them the importance of action now to prevent the cycles of delay and uncertainty that have plagued previous reauthorization bills.
  • Ask them to support the call from EPW Committee Chair John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) to pay for ATIA with highway user fee revenue.
  • Urge them to play a leadership role in final passage of Senate reauthorization bill this fall.

You can also complement these efforts in the Senate by also meeting with your House member:  

  • Encourage them to push their respective party’s leaders to begin advancing their version of a transportation reauthorization bill or infrastructure package this fall.
  • Remind them a user-based, permanent revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund must be the foundation of any final proposal.

ARTBA staff is ready to help with your grassroots efforts. Please contact ARTBA Senior Vice President for Congressional Relations Dean Franks with questions or if you need assistance.

National Steel Bridge Alliance, the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) and Others Urge Support the proposed America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA)

On Monday, July 29, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) introduced a five-year, $287 billion highway bill representing a 27% increase over the current authorized funding from the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST, Act. Additional items include more than $6 billion for a new competitive bridge investment grant program and increased transparency requirements for public-private partnership (P3) projects.

The National Steel Bridge Alliance, a division of the American Institute of Steel Construction, and the rest of the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) urge all members of the EPW committee to support during today’s full-committee mark-up.

“A long-term, robust highway bill will put more Americans to work and energize commerce and quality of life across the cities, towns, and rural areas of our nation,” said Charles J. Carter, SE, PE, PhD, president of the American Institute of Steel Construction.

Among other things, the ATIA authorizes:

  • $287 billion over five years in contract authority – an increase of roughly $12 billion annually when compared to the previous highway bill, the FAST Act. Some 17% of that funding increase would take effect the first year, which would help states address maintenance backlogs to improve safety and congestion.
  • More than $6 billion over five years for a new competitive bridge investment grant program, with 50% dedicated to bridge projects of $100 million or more. This is crucial for large bridge projects that traditionally struggle to secure adequate funding.
  • A required 15-day notice prior to a Buy American waiver being granted for federal-aid projects
  • Increased funding for the Technology and Innovation Deployment Program (TDAP). These funds include $100 million in new and innovative construction technologies for smarter, accelerated project delivery.
  • Increased transparency requirements for public-private partnership (P3) projects

The 31 national associations and trade unions of the TTC sent a letter Monday to Sens. John Barrasso, Shelley Moore Capito, Tom Carper, Ben Cardin, and the rest of the EPW committee commending the committee’s effort to introduce ATIA as a bipartisan measure that will benefit all 50 states.

A summary of the bill is available here, and the full bill text is available here.

American Institute of Steel Construction

www.aisc.org