Tag Archive for 'Environment & Public Works (EPW)'

ARTBA Leads the Way on Transportation Infrastructure Investment & Innovation

ARTBA Chairman Bob Alger, left, testifies at a July 16 congressional hearing.

By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

ARTBA’s volunteer leaders, members, and staff this week in Washington, D.C., advocated for the transportation design and construction industry on several fronts:

  • July 16: ARTBA Chairman Bob Alger, chairman of The Lane Construction Corporation, told a congressional hearing that the best way to increase investment in public transit and other transportation options is to provide a permanent revenue solution for the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF).  “Congress’s chronic failure to fix the Highway Trust Fund program threatens all federal surface transportation programs,” he said. His remarks drew praise from the top Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
  • July 17: More than 80 people from 26 states attended the 6th Annual National Workshop for State & Local Transportation, a signature program of ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center™ (TIAC). “The importance of this event likely isn’t lost on anyone here,” ARTBA President and CEO Dave Bauer said during his welcome remarks. While 31 states have increased their gas tax since 2013 and taken other measure to increase investment, the federal gas tax has not been increased since 1993 and the trust fund revenue shortfall has not been addressed.
  • July 17-19: Professionals from design and construction firms, federal and state government agencies, and the legal and finance sectors gathered for the 31st Annual Public-Private Partnerships (P3) in Transportation Conference. In spirited panel discussions, industry experts discussed shifts in P3 risk, the impact of federal deregulation, and new market opportunities. ARTBA’s P3 Division announced its annual award winners, mentored the next generation of industry leaders, and named its new officers for the coming year.

ARTBA is pressing members of the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee to develop a surface transportation reauthorization bill before Congress recesses for its summer break.

“It’s common to belittle the outlook for action on infrastructure,” Bauer said in his welcoming remarks to the P3 Conference, “but over the last two years we’ve had $10 billion of additional investment, and the EPW Committee is working on a reauthorization bill one year early instead of multiple years late.”

Bauer emphasized, however, that, “While we are not where we want to be, we are clearly moving in the right direction.”

ARTBA Tells Senate Panel Endangered Species Act Needs Targeted Reforms 

 The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Feb. 15 told a U.S. Senate panel the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) “critical habitat” provision should be replaced with a “less expansive habitat preservation system that focuses on preserving essential species habitat without imposing unnecessary and excessive restrictions on development.”

The ESA was originally passed in 1973 and hasn’t been amended for nearly 30 years. In a statement submitted to a Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee oversight hearing entitled, “Modernization of the Endangered Species Act,” ARTBA noted the proper “determination of critical habitat is a very important issue for state and local governments, as well as businesses located in areas impacted by ESA activity. A determination of critical habitat can literally remove hundreds of miles from the possibility of any type of development.”

ARTBA pointed to the impacts of the law on infrastructure projects. “The ESA is a valuable tool in helping to deliver transportation projects in a manner that is most beneficial to both the environment and the communities served by those projects,” ARTBA said. In its current state, however, the ESA has achieved less than a 1 percent rate of success for species recovery. At the same time, it has resulted in multi-year delays for transportation construction projects.”

In other recommendations, the association said Congress should:

Establish a standard to define the “best available” scientific data in decisions concerning endangered or threatened species. This standard should provide for independent peer review of all ESA determinations.

Reform the species listing process to discourage listing of species not actually threatened. Specifically, species should not be able to be listed based on potential threats, only actual impacts. Also, the de-listing process should be streamlined to allow for easier removal of species once they are no longer threatened.

Curb unnecessary ESA litigation by disallowing litigation based on possible development occurring as the result of a proposed transportation project. Only disputes involving the effects of the potential project itself should be considered.

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