Tag Archive for 'Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Well, this is a bit awkward!  EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports that in 2015 and 2016 EPA paid over $1.5 million for subsidized and unoccupied parking spaces at DC headquarters and Region 4 Atlanta, the only two offices that subsidize parking.  These weren’t criticisms for employees who needed to park, either.  (Other EPA offices provide “free” parking but the OIG report doesn’t include that non-cash benefit.)  The OIG points out that a 2015 Executive Order established “a clear overarching objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across Federal operations” encouraging agencies to “promote sustainable commuting.”  OIG found sloppy program accounting, too, with good-role-model parents apparently using their kids to qualify for car-pool spaces, which were granted even though car-pool participants didn’t list an email address on application forms, as required.  Tsk tsk… Do as we say, not as we do!
*  Someone named V V makes some thoughtful points about regulatory costs in comments to a Federal Highway docket.  V V has an interesting angle, first noting that the US GDP is around $17.6 trillion.  Then, he/she cites recent estimates that regulations cost the US economy about $1.88 trillion.  Next, some comparative figures: $2 trillion (rounding up a bit) is equivalent to more than half the 2014 level of fiscal budget outlays ($3.5 trillion), and nearly four times the $482 billion deficit.  Regulatory costs rival the level of pre-tax corporate profits, which were $2.235 trillion in 2013.  US households “pay” $14,976 annually in hidden regulatory tax ($1.882 trillion in regulation 125.67 million “consumer units”), “equivalent” to 23% of average income before taxes.  If US regulatory costs of $1.88 trillion were a “country”, it would be the world’s tenth largest economy, between India and the Russian Federation.  Hey, V V – thanks!  Happy Monday, Dude *:)) laughing!

*  EPA has a public hearing scheduled to take comments on the “Repeal of Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units,” a.k.a., ending the Clean Power Plan.  Okay, public hearings aren’t anything new, but this meeting won’t be held in boring ol’ Washington DC or Arlington or Alexandria with the usual bunch of over-paid suits milling around checking their phones.  No sir, this meeting will be held in wild wonderful West Virginia, right in the heart of coal country.  Wow, passion and policy wonks in the same room at the same time.  Should be fun.


Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will hold a series of meetings to start the discussions on the State’s “Zero- and Near Zero‑Emission Freight Facilities Project.”  CARB’s proposed  FY 2017-18 Funding Plan for Clean Transportation Incentives allocates $150 million to the Zero/Near-Zero project to advance “bold, transformative emission reduction strategies that can be emulated throughout freight facilities statewide.” Funding sources include $100 million from this year’s Low Carbon Transportation allocation plus $50 million from the Trade Corridor Enhancement Account for the Zero‑ and Near Zero‑Emission Warehouse program.  Meeting participants can interact with CARB staff and other stakeholders interested in development and implementation.  The first meeting is October 30, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (PST).
*  For the last year or so, Oregon health and environmental officials have been working to “close gaps in the state’s existing air quality rules” to “protect neighbors and vulnerable people (such as children) from potentially harmful levels of exposure” to industrial air toxics.  OR officials say this regulatory gap can create health risks for families and communities.   Last week OR officials released 109 pages of draft rules to close this toxic gap.  Officials say the draft rules “provide businesses with predictable and flexible air quality rules. This is so Oregon industries can remain competitive in a global economy.”  Do you agree?  The public comment period is open until December 22.  OR will hold six hearings on the draft rules.
*  The federal transportation act (FAST-41) contains a pilot provision authorizing “up to three States to collect tolls on a facility on the Interstate System for the purpose of reconstructing or rehabilitating Interstate highway corridors that could not otherwise be adequately maintained or functionally improved without the collection of tolls.”  Last week FHWA published general program provisions including eligibility and selection criteria, and the application submission and evaluation process.  After its review, FHWA can award up to three provisional approvals to States which then have to satisfy program criteria within 3 years. If there are fewer than three provisional approvals, the Agency will re-solicit applications.  FHWA will conduct a webinar on this interesting program next month.

Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  The Future: This will happen, one way or another: Quantum information science (QIS) seeks to advance research in the control of atoms and molecules and development of ultra-fast lasers capable of manipulating states of matter.  To advance that research the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will hold a workshop in October, a follow up to a current request for comments by the Department of Commerce regarding “the broader needs of the industrial community.”  The workshop will support the QIS Interagency Working Group, established in 2014, which includes participants from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Energy, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Science Foundation.  NIST seeks comments on R&D opportunities, support for emerging market areas, identifying barriers to near-term and future applications, and understanding workforce needs.
*  The Future: This could happen: The Federal Rail Administration (FRA) and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) released the Tier II Draft EIS for the Washington, D.C. to Richmond Southeast High-Speed Rail (DC2RVA) Project.  It’s worth a close look, for many reasons.  One, it’s an important transportation proposal within a very congested highway corridor.  This is a high-speed rail by US standards, not Europe or Japan, which is good because it becomes much more doable where reality (think money) is concerned.  These could be 90 mph trains, plenty of speed for a 123-mile trip. Second, this EIS Summary is a particularly well-done document: clear and straightforward, an excellent compilation of text, charts, and graphics.  Hats off to the team which prepared this summary.  A reader not only can stay awake while reading but she or he comes away with a strong understanding of the project and related benefits and costs.
*  The Future: This won’t happen: Federal Highway, in August, rescinded the Record of Decision (ROD) for a highway project in metropolitan Tacoma (Pierce County), Washington.  This would have been a new arterial highway between SR 7 and I-5, running east to west, south of McChord AFB.  The ROD was published in August 2004 – 13 years ago!  The project has been stalled since 2007 because of public policy, litigation, and transportation demand reasons. Shelf-life: too long.  Now, the ROD is “no longer a valid document without further environmental analysis and review.”  That DC to Richmond project should hold many lessons, for people in many places.
 
Tom Ewing
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NAPA Honors Asphalt Industry Leaders for Operational Excellenc

Awards Program Celebrates Safety Innovations, Ecological Operations, Community Involvement, and Marketing Practices

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) honored the winners and finalists of its 2016 Operational Excellence Awards at a special ceremony today (July 17) during the association’s Midyear Meeting in Chicago.

“NAPA members strive for excellence beyond constructing high-quality asphalt pavements. The five categories of the Operational Excellence Awards — Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation, Community Involvement, Ecological, Outstanding Brochure, and Outstanding Website — recognize a company’s commitment to operations that make them good contractors, good industry ambassadors, and good neighbors,” stated NAPA Chairman Dan Gallagher.

The 2016 winners and finalists honored during the ceremony include:

Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation Award Winner:
• Lakeside Industries Inc. of Issaquah, Wash., for The Super Bowl of Safety employee

safety program
Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation Award Finalist:

• Payne & Dolan Inc. of Waukesha, Wis., for its mobile app

Community Involvement Award Winners:

  • The Mid-Central Division of Rogers Group Inc. of Gallatin, Tenn.
  • The Community Team at Silver Star Construction Co. Inc. of Moore, Okla.

    Community Involvement Award Finalists:

    • The Road to a Better Community at Barrett Paving Materials Inc. of Watertown, N.Y.
    • Simon Contractors Cares at Simon Contractors of Cheyenne, Wyo.

      Ecological Award (Existing Plant) Winner:

• The Lane Construction Corp. of West Columbia, S.C., for West Columbia Facility Ecological Award (New Plant) Winner:

• Pike Industries Inc., an Oldcastle Materials Co. of Belmont, N.H., for HMA P-

Ecological Award (Existing Plant) Finalist:
• Barrett Paving Materials Inc. of Watertown, N.Y., for the Watertown Drum Plant

Outstanding Brochure Award Winner:
• Gallagher Asphalt Corp. of Thornton, Ill. For “Diamond Commendation Brochure”

Outstanding Website Award Winner (State Asphalt Pavement Association):
• Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa of Ames, Iowa, for www.apai.net.

The Operational Excellence Awards honor leaders in the asphalt pavement industry for innovation and excellence in marketing, communications, and community outreach with the Community Involvement, Outstanding Brochure, and Outstanding Website Awards. Companies also are lauded for their responsible practices with the Asphalt Operations Safety Innovations and Ecological Awards.

The Operational Excellence Awards are a counterpart to NAPA’s annual Quality in Construction Awards, which recognize asphalt paving jobs completed in line with best practices and standards known to yield high-quality asphalt pavements.

The NAPA Awards Program recognizes and encourages continuous improvement in all aspects of paving and asphalt operations. The 2017 NAPA Awards program is accepting nominations. Quality in Construction Award nominations are due by Oct. 5; Operational Excellence Award nominations are due by Nov. 30.

For more information about the NAPA Awards program,

or to nominate a project or company for an award, visit www.AsphaltPavement.org/Awards.

NAPA Announces Winners of National Award for Safety Innovation in the Asphalt Pavement Industry

 The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) announced today (July 17) the winners of its 2016 Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation Award. Two companies were recognized at a special ceremony during the association’s Midyear Meeting in Chicago.

The Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation Award recognizes the development and implementation of innovative ideas that lead to improved worker safety in a roadway work zone, plant site, or quarry environment, and companies whose safety practices go above and beyond normal safety practices.

“NAPA members strive for excellence in constructing high-quality asphalt pavements and in every aspect of their operations. The five Operational Excellence Awards categories — Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation, Community Involvement, Ecological, Outstanding Brochure, and Outstanding Website — recognize a company’s commitment to operational practices that make them good contractors, good industry ambassadors, and good neighbors,” said NAPA Chairman Dan Gallagher.

Lakeside Industries Inc., based in Issaquah, Wash., was honored as the winner of the 2016 award for its Super Bowl of Safety employee safety program. The intra-company competition generates excitement and reinforces the company’s safety culture, creating awareness, accountability, and performance improvements.

“What makes the Super Bowl of Safety innovative is the way it leverages our commitment to make safety meetings more engaging and meaningful by being interactive and focusing on solving problems,” Lakeside Industries Director of Risk Management Cal Beyer said. “The Super Bowl of Safety incorporates real safety issues faced when working with hot-mix asphalt production and paving.”

Payne & Dolan Inc. of Waukesha, Wis., was honored as an award finalist for its mobile app, which was developed to deliver safety resources to employees in the office and on the job site. Foremen can access various safety forms, documents and other resources; safety-related reports can be filed by crew members; and relevant safety-related topics and news can be pushed out to employees.

“The mobile app provides an updated perspective on safety attitudes allowing employees to ‘bring’ safety with them on their mobile devices,” Payne & Dolan Safety Manager Michael Del Fava said. “It spreads the safety message and keeps safety at the forefront of our collective work mentality.”

The Operational Excellence Awards honor leaders in the asphalt pavement industry for innovation and excellence in marketing, communications, and community outreach with the Community Involvement, Outstanding Brochure, and Outstanding Website Awards. Companies also are lauded for their responsible practices with the Asphalt Operations Safety Innovations and the Ecological Awards for New and Existing Plants.

The Operational Excellence Awards are a counterpart to NAPA’s annual Quality in Construction Awards, which recognize asphalt paving jobs completed in line with best practices and standards known to yield high-quality asphalt pavements.

The NAPA Awards Program recognizes and encourages continuous improvement in all aspects of asphalt production and paving operations. The 2017 NAPA Awards program is currently accepting nominations. Quality in Construction Award nominations are due by Oct. 5; Operational Excellence Award nominations are due by Nov. 30.

For more information about the NAPA Awards program, or to nominate a project or company for an award, visit www.AsphaltPavement.org/Awards.