Tag Archive for 'highway construction'

AED’s McGuire Tells Lawmakers: “There are No More Excuses”

Following the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s approval of the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment & Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act (H.R. 2) earlier today, AED’s President & CEO Brian P. McGuire issued the following statement:

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was long overdue for our leaders in Washington to provide substantial, long-term surface transportation investments to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Now, it’s absolutely necessary as the United States stares directly into a significant economic downturn, state Departments of Transportation are unable to fund future construction projects and equipment dealers and their customers are facing significant uncertainty.”

“AED members across the country have seen demand for construction equipment purchases and rentals decreasing rapidly as the backlog of pre-COVID-19 construction projects diminishes. The dismal assessment will necessitate tough decisions from the small-medium-sized family-owned companies regarding employment and business investment, particularly as federal programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) end in the coming months. Indeed, even with generous government loans, devoid of long-term funding for surface transportation projects, business at equipment dealerships will grind to a halt compelling drastic employment reductions.”

“Now is not the time for partisanship. The future of our country’s economic well-being and competitiveness is at stake. AED urges the House, Senate and the administration to work in a bipartisan manner to expeditiously complete the surface transportation reauthorization process. There are no more excuses—everyone in Washington knows what needs to be done and now is the time to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, put people back to work and generate economic growth for years to come.”

The INVEST in America Act is expected to be on the House floor in July. Meanwhile, the Senate’s bipartisan surface transportation bill (America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act), which was unanimously approved by the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee last summer, awaits further consideration.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, AED vociferously advocated for congressional action to provide long-term, infrastructure investments. Since mid-March the association has led the charge making the case that construction projects should proceed despite widespread shutdowns, urging governors to continue public works investment notwithstanding state revenue shortfalls and telling Congress and the administration that rebuilding America’s infrastructure must be the top policy priority immediately to spur economic growth.

ARTBA Chairman Steve McGough Oral Testimony, Senate EPW Committee Hearing June 4, 2020

Chairman Barrasso, Senator Carper and other members of the Committee, thank you for holding today’s hearing about the role federal infrastructure investment can and should play in the economic recovery.  

I’m 2020 ARTBA Chairman Steve McGough, president and C-F-O of Houston based HCSFederalS—a national company that provides technology solutions to help improve construction company business operations.

Let me begin by emphasizing  two points.

First, shovel-ready projects are not a solution to the nation’s current economic challenges.  

While transportation infrastructure improvements have positive job and salary impacts, the real value comes from putting in place long-term assets that increase the efficiency and productivity for the entire economy.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, goods movement over the nation’s highways account for 73 percent of the value of domestic freight.  

Industries like wholesale and retail trade and manufacturing are two of the largest users of transportation services in the economy and utilize highway freight shipments for 58 to 65 percent of their needs.  

Second, federal highway investment is a major contributor to each of your states’ infrastructure networks, but it is effectively a silent partner.  We’ve developed a way to correct that shortcoming.

In 2018 alone, states utilized nearly 31 billion dollars of federal highway funds to begin construction activity on over 24 thousand highway improvement projects with a total value of 66 point 7 billion dollars.  

Thanks to the new interactive ARTBA Highway Dashboard, policymakers and the public alike can see how federal highway resources were deployed by each state in a given year dating back to 1950.  

We have compiled each state’s top-10 federal-aid projects, the total number of projects and the type of improvements advanced that year.

The Dashboard uses data from the Federal Highway Administration to shift the conversation about federal highway investments from apportionment tables and obligation charts to outcomes and benefits.

Mr. Chairman, the federal highway program is widely regarded as one of the most meaningful and popular of all federal discretionary spending activities.  Now, we can articulate why.

As an example, Wyoming in 2018 used 309 million dollars in federal highway funds to advance 262 projects with a total value of 370 million dollars.  The largest single recipient of these funds was a 20 million-dollar resurfacing project in Sweetwater County.  

Of the federal aid projects Wyoming moved forward with that year, 66 percent were for reconstruction and repair work.

This information not only demonstrates the value each state receives from highway investment, but also highlights  the potential numerous benefits  from the five-year reauthorization proposal this committee approved last July.  

         America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act would increase highway investment by 27 percent over the next five years.  Your proposal includes commonsense policy reforms that will expedite the delivery of needed infrastructure improvements and maximize the impact of federal resources.  More importantly, the bill’s investment growth stands in stark contrast to the purchasing power focus -of the past 15 years.

         We have given each of you a snapshot of how your state benefited from federal highway investment in 2018.  Imagine what this program could accomplish with the resources you have proposed.

         Mister Chairman, the recent forecast from the Congressional Budget Office that it could take a decade for the U.S. economy to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic is sobering.  

This outlook is also disturbing in the context of the nation’s infrastructure deficit.  State and local highway spending needed eight years, or until 2015, to return to pre-Great Recession levels, while G-D-P recovery occurred in three years. 

That lag in highway and bridge improvement activity could illustrate the challenging road ahead  for our infrastructure network absent proactive action, such as enactment of the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act.

Your proposal is both a robust highway program reauthorization AND a foundational opportunity for economic recovery and growth.

         Mister Chairman, the transportation construction industry is not here today asking for federal relief.   Instead, we seek to be part of the solution to spur the meaningful economic recovery the nation desperately needs.  

We urge the other Senate committees with respective jurisdiction over their portions of the transportation programs to act quickly in order to facilitate final passage of America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act.

         Thank you for convening today’s hearing and I look forward to your questions.

For more information visit www.artba.org

Multi-Year Highway & Transit Bill an Elixir for Ailing U.S. Economy, ARTBA Chairman Tells Senate Committee

A long-term federal transportation infrastructure investment bill will help drive the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chairman Steve McGough said in June 4 testimony before the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee.

McGough, the president and chief financial officer of HCSS, a Houston-based national construction software company, said a recent forecast from the Congressional Budget Office that it could take a decade for the U.S. economy to recover from the coronavirus was sobering.  

McGough added one-time infusions of federal transportation investment and shovel-ready projects were not the solutions to America’s unprecedented economic challenges.

“While transportation infrastructure improvements have positive job and salary impacts, the real value comes from putting in place long-term assets that increase the efficiency and productivity for the entire economy,” McGough said.

McGough voiced the association’s support for the EPW Committee’s July 2019 unanimously approved America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA), a proposal to increase highway investment by 27 percent over the next five years.  ATIA also includes positive reforms to expedite the delivery of needed infrastructure improvements and maximize the impacts of federal resources. 

During his testimony, the ARTBA chairman announced the creation of a new ARTBA Highway Dashboard: A 50-State Guide to the Benefits of Federal Investment,” an interactive tool that highlights the program’s outcomes at the national and state levels.  Using Federal Highway Administration data, it features each state’s top-10 federal-aid projects, the total number of projects and the type of improvements advanced in a given year.

ARTBA says the dashboard will increase transparency and better highlight what could be achieved with a robust, multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill.

McGough concluded: “We urge the other Senate committees with respective jurisdiction over their portions of the transportation programs to act quickly in order to facilitate final passage of America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act.”

Established in 1902 and with more than 8,000 public and private sector members, the Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA advocates for strong investment in transportation infrastructure to meet the public and business community demand for safe and efficient travel.

New Hours of Service Rule Will Speed Project Delivery While Maintaining Road Safety

New updates to the federal “hours of service” rule will speed up construction of transportation improvement projects while maintaining road safety, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

“The revisions will help transportation construction contractors deploy project personnel more efficiently, saving on time and costs while maintaining high standards for safety,” said ARTBA President and CEO Dave Bauer. “These updates are especially needed for transportation construction to play a crucial role in our nation’s economic recovery.”

Under the jurisdiction of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the hours of service rule governs the amount of time truckers can spend on the road.  The rule is principally directed at long-haul drivers, seeking to prevent fatigue and compromises to safety that can come from long hours and miles behind the wheel.

In contrast, the majority of truckers in the transportation construction industry drive for much shorter distances and time periods.  Because the same rule applies to them, the hours of service “clock” has often prohibited them from driving later in the work day or work week, even though they have spent little time on the open road.

The updates to the rule will enact two specific reforms for which ARTBA has spent years advocating: 

  • Expanding the “short-haul” exemption from 100 to 150 air miles.
  • Counting non-driving activities towards satisfying the agency’s 30-minute rest requirement.

These provisions will increase flexibility in deploying drivers who actually spend most of their day waiting in queues for loading and unloading materials, delivering construction equipment and helping with other project tasks.  They will especially help contractors working on a critical project under an intense, accelerated schedule, such as replacing a bridge over a single weekend.   

“Correcting this misapplication of federal requirements is the type of regulatory reform that all sides should support,” Bauer added. “ARTBA appreciates the Trump administration’s continued efforts to improve a federal regulatory structure that has often impeded the efficient delivery of transportation infrastructure projects.”

The rule update will take effect 120 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

Established in 1902 and with more than 8,000 public and private sector members, the Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA advocates for strong investment in transportation infrastructure to meet the public and business community demand for safe and efficient travel.

Work Hard and the Money Follows

DeNucci Constructors LLC Meets the Challenges of Rapid Growth

By Richard Rybka

Take care of your biggest asset – your employees and customers.”

This statement by Paul DeNucci demonstrates his understanding that empathy is critically important to success in contracting. He has followed this mantra for the past 28 years. Equally important to his business philosophy are the words that has kept his company solvent and prosperous: “Work hard and the money follows.”

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Since 1992, DeNucci has taken his company from a start-up to a highly competitive, multi-functional construction company in a tough market. It took more than a sound business philosophy to move through the ever-changing landscape of construction. Learning the company’s history and transitions will reveal the motivating factors that made his business a true success story.

Starting Out With Chains and Hubs

In 1992, DeNucci founded his company in Austin, Texas. That was back in the day when “technology” was a non-existent term in the construction business. For a site work contractor, that meant slow and tedious tasks for layout, grade staking, blue tops, and as-builts. A tripod-mounted construction level and a grade rod were the most innovative tools available for construction survey work.

Today, DeNucci Constructors LLC is a major player in the Austin construction industry. His company is licensed both as a commercial general building contractor and as a utilities construction company, providing services to public government entities and private customers. DeNucci’s typical mix of construction contracts includes residential subdivisions, assisted living facilities, sanitary and storm sewer systems, urban street improvements, and recreational parks. 

Rapid Growth Spurs Change

As of April 2019, Austin, Texas, is the fastest growing major metropolitan area in the United States. This growth spurt extends well beyond the city center area into five surrounding counties.

A contractor operating in this economic environment faces two challenges – increased competition and pricing pressure. DeNucci was determined to continue the growth of his company in this fast-changing market. Not quite sure of how the future of his company would unfold, he maintained an open mind and an expansive perspective.

“We were always looking for technology and other innovation to help give us an edge and increase production,” DeNucci said. Willingness to explore new options was and continues to be what keeps his company moving into the future. It also gave him the advantage he needed to stay ahead of the competition. 

Expediting the Transition to Technology

Coming from the old school way of doing things, DeNucci admits that he was a “hard sell” when it came to adopting GPS technology. 

He tried integrating GPS into his workflows, but was not having much luck with the first system he purchased. Looking for a better solution, he met John Favret in June 2015. Favret is Senior Machine Control Sales Specialist, based at GeoShack’s store in Austin.

The Austin location is one of 21 stores in eight U.S. states and has the resources to provide a total solution to its customers – the most advance technology products, highly competent sales consultants, and unlimited support.

Favret demoed Topcon’s HiPer V base and rover system to DeNucci, his son, Ryan, and General Superintendent Josh Walenta. With Pocket 3D software on the field controller, it is a perfect solution for layout, grade staking, and collecting as-built information. Quickly seeing how Topcon’s GPS system out-performed his existing system, he made the switch. He noticed a huge improvement in managing his subdivision projects. 

Within a few months, DeNucci became eager to explore machine control systems. He asked Favret to install a Topcon 3D-MC2 on a Caterpillar D8 Dozer. Shortly thereafter, another system was installed on a Caterpillar 140 M3 Motor Grader. 

DeNucci purchased his first Topcon 3D-MCMAX dozer system in August 2017. That was just the beginning. Today, the company owns three 3D-MCMAX-equipped dozers, one 3D-MC2 dozer, two 3D-MC motor graders, and two sets of Hiper V base and rover systems. 

A Typical DeNucci Project

Santa Rita Ranch, a premier master-planned community, is located in Williamson County, Texas. Upon completion of total build-out, the project will include approximately 6,500 homes located in nine distinct villages and more than 200 acres of commercial and multifamily development.

The site work, grading, and excavation required for the project includes construction of numerous water quality ponds, drainage structures, water and wastewater systems, lift stations, curb and gutter, HMAC paving, dry utilities, sidewalks, signage, and other amenities.

DeNucci explained how this complex project showcases the use of Topcon GPS systems for every phase of the massive development:

“Our Topcon equipment has allowed us to localize and seamlessly move from section to section within the subdivision, locate erosion controls and other items of work with our rovers, complete our rough cutting and lot grading operations with our 950 and D10 dozers with machine control followed by our motor graders with their machine control to complete the road base operations and final grading before the final HMAC installation.”

A Word from the Man in the Field

Josh Walenta has been with DeNucci for 13 years and experienced first-hand the growth and changes that have taken place. Walenta is the man who oversees the day-to-day field operations.

Before the company started using machine control systems, they depended on surveyors to set grade stakes and blue tops. Earthmoving and grade work depended on the schedules of others. Equipment and operators were often delayed from making progress on a job while they waited for layout information.

Walenta says the most significant advantages to machine control systems are speed and cost savings. “No waiting on anybody, no scheduling,” he explained. Once others set control points, there is no need for outside consultants.

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Field checking, when necessary, is done with a Topcon HiPer V rover and Pocket 3D software. “Most of the time if there’s a question or problem you can check in on something with an existing elevation, like a manhole or an inlet, and figure out what’s going on – instead of waiting on someone or building it and having to come back and fix it later,” Walenta remarked.

When a Dealer Becomes Part of the Team

All the technology in the world cannot achieve its full potential without knowledgeable support from the supplier. It’s not just about selling a product and answering support phone calls. It’s about seamless integration of technology with the user.

John Favret received the highest compliment that a sales consultant can expect to receive from a customer. “John is an invaluable part of our team and his service after the sell is unmatched in our industry”, said DeNucci. 

GeoShack, Topcon, and Favret give DeNucci the advantage he needs to not just stay competitive, but to thrive in one of the toughest markets. It also gives DeNucci confidence in an ally that can help him control his company’s destiny. 

DeNucci claims an optimistic future for his company: “We look forward to continuing to grow with the Topcon products and utilize the ever-changing technology as they continue to innovate.”

For more information about GeoShack, Topcon GPS products, and Topcon machine control systems, go twww.geoshack.com

This feature appeared in the March 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder