Tag Archive for 'Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)'

Ray O’Connor, President and CEO of Topcon Positioning Systems represented AEM at Bloomberg Government NEXT Infrastructure conference

Our infrastructure is critical to the future of our country. Recently American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publicized its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. To review the 2017 ASCE Infrastructure, which earned a D+ you can click  here.

The infrastructure is critical to everyone without exception. We depend on it for not only transportation but also everything we eat, drink, wear; going to work, going to dinner; going to the doctor, the hospital or emergency rooms, getting our children to school to the movies or the playground. Pay attention to local, state and national infrastructure issues and the proposed legislation that attempts to address some of the more critical issues. And the next time you hit a pothole think of the damage being done to the tires, rim, suspension and undercarriage of your care.

Ray O’Connor, President and CEO of Topcon Positioning Systems represented AEM at  Bloomberg Government NEXT Infrastructure conference in Washington D.C. last week. He spoke with Marcia Hale, president, Building America’s Future Educational Fund, in the Smart Infrastructure and Global Advantage segment of the conference.

Dennis Slater, President and Secretary of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), made the opening remarks.

It’s our infrastructure. Think of it this way, the better the infrastructure the safer our world.

ASCE Reports America’s Infrastructure as D+

President Trump Announces “Massive Permit Reform” Push

Capping off his Administration’s ‘Infrastructure Week,’ President Trump held an event this morning on permitting reform at the U.S. Department of Transportation. President Trump, joined by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, met with heads of state departments of transportation and then addressed a group of transportation officials and stakeholders. President Trump reiterated his commitment to fixing the nation’s infrastructure and named the existing infrastructure project approval process as a major impediment to that goal, saying “one of the biggest obstacles to creating this new and desperately-needed infrastructure…is the painfully slow, costly and time-consuming process for getting permits and approvals to build.”

President Trump is not alone in this view. Secretary Chao has repeatedly said over the last several months that “money is not the problem” when it comes to improving the nation’s infrastructure and instead cutting red tape to speed up the approvals process is the most important thing for restoring the nation’s infrastructure systems. Last month the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the topic, where Chairman John Barrasso (R-MT) called for simplifying the government review process and making it more flexible to meet the different natures of rural and urban states. However, Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) pushed back on the Secreatary Chao’s comments, declaring lack of funding the biggest impediment to infrastructure improvements and calling for the full implementation of changes to permitting laws passed in recent legislation before Congress takes further action.

Almost everyone agrees the federal infrastructure approval process is a long way from perfect, but there are strongly contrasting ideas about how to improve it. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires federal agencies to consider the environmental effects of an action and to involve the public in their decision-making process. The law is a frequent target of criticism from some sectors because it can add years to a project.

Congress has tried to fix the pain points in several recent pieces of legislation. The FAST Act included new procedural requirements aimed at ensuring early collaboration and efficient environmental reviews for complex infrastructure projects including: the use of a single NEPA document as much as possible with one agency serving as lead and ensuring the review meets the needs of the other agencies; requiring a schedule to be a part of a project coordination plan; and creating a publicly accessible dashboard to publish the status of NEPA and permitting for all projects requiring an environmental impact statement or environmental assessment. MAP-21 and the Water Resources Development Act also included permitting reforms, but these reforms have not been fully implemented yet.

A Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General report from March found that the streamlining provisions in the FAST Act have possibly delayed the improvements expected from the streamlining measures in MAP-21. This should give Congress pause as they contemplate more permitting reform, as the already approved reforms have not had the opportunity to be tested yet.

ASCE has called for mandating concurrent reviews by agencies; a single administrative permitting agency to shorten and improve the approval process and improve inter-agency collaboration; and time limits for decisions on infrastructure projects. To some extent these reforms have all been included in recent legislation (particularly the FAST Act), but their effect is not yet clear.

Today President Trump announced the creation of a new council to help project managers navigate the permitting process including the creation of a new online dashboard. He also announced the creation of a new office within the White House Council of Environmental Quality “to root out inefficiency, clarify lines of authority, and streamline federal, state and local procedures so that communities can modernize their aging infrastructure without fear of outdated federal rules getting in the way.”

While it is obviously too early to know the effect of the Administration’s new efforts to streamline the permitting process, it’s assertion that regulations, not funding, are the real problem in infrastructure ignores the true infrastructure challenges we face. A 2012 Congressional Research Service report questioned the degree to which the NEPA compliance process is a significant source of delay, noting “causes of delay that have been identified are more often tied to local/state and project-specific factors, primarily local/state agency priorities, project funding levels, local opposition to a project, project complexity, or late changes in project scope.” A 2016 report prepared for the U.S. Treasury on proposed major infrastructure projects stated, “A review of the 40 transportation and water infrastructure projects…suggests that they face four major challenges to completion: (a) limited public resources, (b) significantly increased capital costs, (c) extended program and project review and permitting processes, and (d) lack of consensus among multiple public and private sector entities. A lack of public funding is by far the most common factor hindering the completion of transportation and water infrastructure projects.”

ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card graded the nation’s infrastructure a D+ and estimates that $4.59 trillion in infrastructure investment will be necessary from federal, state, local, and private sources between 2016 and 2025 to reach a state of good repair and earn a grade of B. However, only just $2.5 trillion is likely to be invested, leaving a $2.0 trillion funding gap. The investment gap led ASCE to make the first key solution of the Report Card increased investment; no amount of streamlining and expediting alone will close the infrastructure investment gap and solve our infrastructure challenges. The Report Card also recommends streamlining the permitting and approval process, but the goals of such changes should to be provide greater clarity to regulatory requirements, bring priority projects to reality more quickly, and secure cost savings. Attempts to shorten the permitting and approval process should not come at the expense of public health, public safety, and the environment.

While we should continue to strive for an efficient and effective federal approval process, addressing the nation’s infrastructure needs requires investing real money in our communities.

http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/tag/infrastructure/

Equipment Manufacturers Urge Lawmakers to Reclaim U.S. Infrastructure Advantage

AEM releases policy recommendations on how to make American infrastructure number one again

 The Association of Equipment Manufactures (AEM) today released The U.S. Infrastructure Advantage™, a report that outlines steps lawmakers should take to reclaim the country’s infrastructure advantage. Currently ranked 11th in the world in infrastructure competitiveness, equipment manufacturers believe it is essential to modernize and rebuild America’s core infrastructure network in order to retain the United States’ position as the world’s strongest economy.

The report makes the case for a U.S. infrastructure system that supports the safe and efficient movement of people and goods; provides connectivity between and within rural and urban America; and fosters strong economic growth and robust job creation.

“The United States once had an infrastructure system that was the envy of the world,” said Dennis Slater, AEM President. “Our infrastructure competitiveness and our economic competitiveness are linked. This set of policy recommendations to reclaim our Infrastructure Advantage speak to that connection and outline what government officials should be thinking about as they consider future legislation.”

 The U.S. Infrastructure Advantage™ offers five key steps that policymakers and infrastructure stakeholders can use to ensure that policy proposals help reclaim the U.S. Infrastructure Advantage:

1. Focus on networks and systems
2. Maximize use of smart technology
3. Ensure rural-urban connectivity
4. Expedite project delivery
5. Provide adequate and reliable resources

The report also provides firsthand perspectives from equipment manufacturers about the importance of infrastructure to the United States’ economy.

“Equipment manufacturers have an important role to play in reclaiming the U.S. Infrastructure Advantage. Equipment manufacturers depend on an efficient infrastructure system – directly in their day-to-day operations, as well as indirectly to sustain the economic health of other sectors that rely on our industry,” added Slater. “They also make the equipment that builds and supports U.S. infrastructure construction and operation.”

The report was developed by a task force of executives from the equipment manufacturing industry following a two-year process of discussion and engagement with a wide range of infrastructure stakeholders through AEM’s Infrastructure Vision 2050 thought-leadership initiative.

About the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) – www.aem.org

AEM is the North American-based international trade group providing innovative business development resources to advance the off-road equipment manufacturing industry in the global marketplace. AEM membership comprises more than 950 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture, construction, forestry, mining and utility sectors worldwide. AEM is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with offices in the world capitals of Washington, D.C.; Ottawa, Canada; and Beijing, China.

NSSGA President and CEO, Michael W. Johnson released the following statement:

Following today’s White House announcement that President Trump will seek to dramatically streamline the permitting process for federally-supported infrastructure projects, 

“Allowing unnecessary and expensive regulations to delay or even prevent critical infrastructure projects has cost our economy years of positive development. The president’s proposal to cut burdensome regulations will allow federal dollars to stretch further, create more jobs and ultimately stimulate economic growth. The benefits of infrastructure investments are clear–especially in the aggregates industry. Each job in a quarry, producing our nation’s building blocks, creates nearly five jobs outside of that operation. Each dollar spent on building our national highway system yielded $6 in economic activity. Making America great again requires making our economy great again and that starts with making America’s roads, bridges, airports and ports great again.”

National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, www.nssga.org 66 Canal Center Plaza Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314 United States

 

 

AEM: Time for Action on Trump Infrastructure Plan

AEM: Time for Action on Trump Infrastructure Plan

Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater issued the following statement on Monday regarding President Trump’s new infrastructure plan:

The Trump Administration gets tremendous credit from the U.S. equipment manufacturing industry for focusing our national dialogue on the need to make substantial investments in American infrastructure.

Infrastructure investment routinely ranks among voters’ top policy priorities, which is why Congress should work on a bipartisan basis to consider and advance a comprehensive infrastructure investment package as soon as possible.

Equipment manufacturers are heartened by efforts to induce additional private investment into infrastructure programs, and welcome efforts to streamline duplicative review processes that drive up the costs for projects.

But we will not be able to realize the infrastructure system our nation needs and deserves without a sustained investment from the federal government. Expanding public-private partnerships will open up new avenues of infrastructure investment, but they are not a substitute for a strong federal program. That is most especially true for rural communities.

AEM members look forward to working with the Trump Administration and Congress to develop forward-looking solutions for our nation’s infrastructure needs. Our Infrastructure Vision 2050 initiative has already generated some of the most innovative ideas for the future of American infrastructure, and we look forward to sharing some of the resulting policy insights from this effort next week.

Note: AEM had earlier this year urged President Trump to start with infrastructure.

Other related articles:

President Trump Kicks Off Infrastructure Week

https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2017/06/06/president-trump-kicks-infrastructure-week

The most dangerous bridge in every US state

http://www.businessinsider.com/most-dangerous-bridges-america-2017-5/ – alabama-i-65-over-us-11-railroad-in-jefferson-county-1

Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Still Could Use More Planning

http://www.npr.org/2017/06/09/532078366/trumps-infrastructure-plan-still-could-use-more-planning