Tag Archive for 'infrastructure'

ARTBA Outlines for New Trump Administration Regulatory Reforms to Help Speed Transportation Project Delivery

More than 20 federal regulations and other policy actions are affecting, and in some cases, hindering the ability to complete transportation improvement projects efficiently, safely, in a timely manner and in the best interests of U.S. taxpayers, according to a comprehensive new report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

“Ripe for Reform: Federal Regulatory Issues Impacting Transportation Project Delivery” is aimed at assisting the incoming administration’s previously announced review of federal regulations, and has already been shared with transition officials. The recommendations were developed with input from ARTBA’s public and private sector members, and its state contractor chapter affiliates.

The association is also distributing the report to House and Senate transportation leaders and their staffs, and plans to share it with new federal agency officials following the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Citing President-elect Donald Trump’s oft-stated commitment to investing major dollars to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, ARTBA notes that “(l)essening the transportation construction industry’s unreasonable regulatory burden will maximize the value of the significant new dollars being invested in transportation improvement projects, unleash innovation in designing and building them, and take full advantage of job-creation possibilities.”

The compilation document addresses existing rules, proposed rules, guidance and executive orders currently in place, a flurry of which have been issued by the Obama administration. These include regulations and policies administered by the: U.S. States Department of Transportation (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, project labor agreements, hours of service); Environmental Protection Agency (Waters of the U.S., Clean Air Act standards); Department of Labor (silica exposure and recordkeeping); Department of the Interior (Endangered Species Act); and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (greenhouse gas).

Read the full report.

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

TRIP Reports: Deficient Roadways Cost Montana Drivers $794 Million Annually.

 

Mdt Forecasts Annual Funding Shortfall Of Nearly $900 Million, Halting Or Delaying Projects Needed To Improve Conditions, Enhance Economic Development Or Improve Safety

Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Montana motorists a total of $794 million statewide annually – as much as $1,417 per driver in some urban areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national nonprofit transportation research organization. These high costs come at a time when the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) estimates it will face an annual funding shortfall of $874 million through 2021, causing many needed projects to be halted or delayed. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, relieve traffic congestion and support long-term economic growth in Montana.

The TRIP report, Montana Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Montana, 34 percent of major urban roads are in poor condition and nearly one-fifth of Montana’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The state’s traffic fatality rate is the third highest in the nation. Montana’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year.

The MDT estimates it will face an $874 million average annual shortfall through 2021 in the investment level needed to make further progress in improving road, highway and bridge conditions; improving traffic safety; and, completing needed modernization improvements to enhance economic development opportunities. As a result of a lack of transportation funding, MDT has delayed $144.5 million in road projects that had been scheduled to begin in 2017.

Driving on deficient roads costs Montana drivers $794 million per year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the costs of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Billings, Great Falls and Missoula urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.

The TRIP report finds that 34 percent of major urban roads in Montana are in poor condition, while 40 percent are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 26 percent are in good condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs Montana drivers an additional $296 million each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

We’ve been talking about our failing infrastructure and lack of funding for a long time now and have very little to show for all that hand-wringing,” said Darryl James, executive director of the Montana Infrastructure Coalition. “It’s time for a little less talk and a lot more action.”

A total of 18 percent of Montana’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Eight percent of Montana’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional ten percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete, which means they no longer meet modern design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

“The Montana Infrastructure Coalition is bringing a balanced package of bills supported by a broad spectrum of Montanans,” said Webb Brown, president and CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce.  “We expect some tough discussions but believe Montana’s lawmakers are ready to step to the plate and work on real solutions to these very real problems. We’re anxious to share our research and data to play a central role in that discussion.”

Traffic crashes in Montana claimed the lives of 1,024 people between 2010 and 2014. Montana’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.58 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is significantly higher than the national average of 1.08 and is the third highest in the nation. The fatality rate on Montana’s rural non-Interstate roads was 2.41 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2014, approximately three times higher than the 0.79 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.

“Our transportation system is truly the network that binds our communities together in Montana,” said Steve Arveschoug, executive director of the Big Sky Economic Development Authority. “Our economic security depends on smart investment in infrastructure and it begins with clean water and roads and bridges that are safe and efficient.”

Traffic congestion in Montana is worsening, costing the state’s drivers $170 million annually in lost time and wasted fuel.

The efficiency and condition of Montana’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $101 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Montana, mostly by truck. Sixty-seven percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Montana are carried by trucks and another 12 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.

“Conditions will worsen and additional projects will be delayed if greater funding is not made available at the state and local levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate investment, Montana’s roads and bridges will become increasingly deteriorated, inefficient and unsafe, hampering economic growth and quality of life.”

Executive Summary

Ten Key Transportation Numbers in Montana

 

 

 

$874 million

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) estimates it will face an $874 million average annual shortfall through 2021 in the investment level needed to make further progress in improving road, highway and bridge conditions; improving traffic safety; and, completing needed modernization improvements to enhance economic development opportunities.
 

50

This report includes information on 50 road, highway and bridge projects that currently cannot proceed due to lack of funding. These projects are needed to improve safety, support economic development opportunities and improve conditions in Montana.
$144.5 million The MDT has delayed $144.5 million in road projects that had been scheduled to begin in 2017 because of a lack of adequate funding.
 

32 percent

5th

25 percent

Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Montana increased by 32 percent from 2000 to 2015 –from 9.9 billion VMT in 2000 to 13 billion VMT in 2015. This was the fifth largest increase in VMT in the nation during that time. VMT in Montana is anticipated to increase by another 25 percent by 2030.
 

$794 million

Driving on deficient roads costs Montana motorists a total of $794 million annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.
$1,113 – Billings

$1,417– Great Falls

$1,152 – Missoula

 

TRIP has calculated the cost to the average motorist in the form of additional VOC, congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. Driving on deficient roads costs the average Billings urban area driver $1,113 annually, while the average driver in the Great Falls area loses $1,417 and the average driver in the Missoula area loses $1,152.
1.58

3rd

Montana’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.58 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2014 was the third highest in the U.S. and much higher than the national average of 1.08.
34% – Montana

30% – Billings

52% – Great Falls

26% – Missoula

Thirty-four percent of Montana’s major urban roads are in poor condition. In the Billings, Great Falls and Missoula urban areas, 30 percent, 52 percent and 26 percent of major roads are in poor condition, respectively.
$101 Billion Annually, $101 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Montana, mostly by truck.
 

18%

A total of 18 percent of Montana bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards. Eight percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and ten percent are functionally obsolete.

Nine years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Montana’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth in Montana, which is greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, has a significant impact on quality of life in the Treasure State.

An efficient, safe and well-maintained transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.

With an economy based largely on natural resource extraction, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism, the quality of Montana’s transportation system plays a vital role in the state’s economic growth and quality of life.

In the TRIP report, TRIP looks at the top transportation numbers in Montana as the state addresses modernizing and maintaining its system of roads, highways, bridges and transit.


Sources of information for this report include the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

To review the complete report visit:  www.tripnet.org

TRIP Reports: PUBLIC AFFAIRS EXECUTIVE TO CHAIR NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH NONPROFIT IN 2017

A Washington, DC, public affairs executive has been elected 2017 chairman of the Board of Directors of TRIP, a private, national transportation research nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.
Nick Yaksich, senior vice president for government and industry relations for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), leads the Washington, DC, office of AEM and joined the TRIP Board of Directors in 1999, serving on its executive committee since 2001. AEM is a trade group of more than 900 construction, agricultural, mining, and forestry equipment manufacturers and related business services. AEM is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and has offices in Washington, DC; Ottawa, Canada; and Beijing, China.
“AEM has supported TRIP’s efforts since TRIP was formed in 1971,” Mr. Yaksich said. “I am honored to serve as the next chairman of TRIP, an organization that has done tremendous work increasing public awareness of the need to invest in America’s surface transportation infrastructure for almost five decades.”
In addition to his service to TRIP, Mr. Yaksich is a member of the executive committee of Americans for Transportation Mobility and is a past chairman of The Road Gang, Washington’s Transportation Fraternity.
TRIP elected the following individuals as officers for 2017: President: Tom Brown, President, Sierra Pacific West, Encinitas, Calif.; Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer: Jeffrey DiStefano, Vice President & COO, Harrison & Burrowes Bridge Constructors, Inc., Glenmont, N.Y.; and, Vice President: Kenneth K. Wert, President, Haskell Lemon Construction Co., Oklahoma City, Okla.
TRIP also elected the following individuals to its Board of Directors: Donn Diederich, Executive Vice President, Industrial Builders, Inc., Fargo, N.D.; Will Griffin, Account Executive, American Global LLC, Miami, Fla.; Ashley Jackson, Director of Government Affairs, NAPA, Lanham, Md.; and, Michele Stanley, Director of Government Affairs, NSSGA, Alexandria, Va.

Founded in 1971, TRIP ® of Washington, DC, is a nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues. TRIP is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers; businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction; labor unions; and organizations concerned with efficient and safe surface transportation.

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update – January 9, 2017

* Three federal agencies are starting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Columbia River system of dams and related energy infrastructure. A final public comment session today, January 9, in Astoria, OR, will help set the scope of this major study. A draft EIS is expected to be ready in spring, 2020. When you look at this huge system you can see why Northwest power is “greener” than, say, Midwest power (and cheaper, since all Americans subsidized western energy developments, and likely still do, in some ways). The EIS raises critical questions about “business as usual” for dams and reservoirs, navigation and commerce, fish and wildlife and eagles and how much of that can change and still provide inexpensive “green” power to 13 million people in the Northwest. This is one to watch, for many reasons.

* USEPA holds a public hearing Thursday, January 12, starting at 9:00 a.m. at its HQ building, in Washington. The hearing is to take comments on the Agency’s proposed rule to implement the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone. The implementation proposal was published in the Federal Register on November 17, 2016. You recall, of course, that the Agency revised (lowered) the ozone standard last October, 2015. Now starts the programs and policies required to more strictly control the “precursor pollutants” – mostly volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) – that combine in the atmosphere to form ozone (O3).

* How do they do it? 388 pages each and every business day! That’s the output from the amazingly efficient and proficient and obviously inspired regulatory authors working within federal agencies, writing and pontificating about everything – literally, from nuclear weapons to school bus safety to cupcake filling to the Hualapai Mexican Vole. Total 2016 Federal Register pages: 97,110. In 2015: 82,035. Will the number go down in 2017? Wanna bet…? Oh, and if you’re interested, the total for 20 years ago – 1996 = 69,366 pages. Ahhh… those were the days…! Big Gubmint, indeed!

Tom Ewing

AGC Reports:CONSTRUCTION EMPLOYMENT DIPS IN DECEMBER BUT RISING HOURLY EARNINGS, CONTRACTOR OPTIMISM SUGGEST HIRING PAUSE IS DUE TO WORKER SHORTAGE

Association Urges Lawmakers and Public Officials to Increase Support for Craft Worker Training Programs to Address Ongoing Demand for Infrastructure, Private and Residential Construction in 2017
Construction employment slipped by 3,000 jobs in December, while average hourly earnings accelerated, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that recent construction spending numbers and their own survey of members suggest demand for construction remains strong, suggesting that the lack of hiring may be due to a shortage of available workers.

“This report presents mixed signals about the state of the construction industry,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Although a dip in employment might normally be a sign of declining demand, in this case the industry is raising wages and taking other steps to attract and retain workers. Construction spending in November hit a 10-year high, with one-month and year-over-year increases in all major segments. Looking ahead, contractors say they expect more work in every category in 2017 than in 2016.”

Construction employment totaled 6,699,000 in December, a decrease of 3,000 from November but an increase of 102,000 or 1.5 percent from a year ago. Average hourly earnings in construction increased 3.0 percent over the past year to $28.42 per hour. Earnings have been rising in recent months at the fastest annual rate since 2009, which Simonson said is evidence that contractors are still eager to expand their headcounts.

Residential construction—comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors—added 9,800 jobs in December and 102,500, or 3.0 percent, compared to a year ago. Nonresidential construction (building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction) employment shrank by 13,400 employees in December and was virtually flat (-400 employees, 0.0 percent) over the year.

These numbers contrast with Census Bureau data on construction spending in November that were released on Wednesday, Simonson observed. Those figures showed that overall spending increased 0.9 percent for the month and 4.1 percent over 12 months. Total residential spending was up 1.0 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively, while total nonresidential spending climbed 0.8 percent from October and 4.9 percent from November 2015.

Association officials noted that both the recent spending data and a survey of members that they plan to release on January 10 point to continued construction activity and an eagerness by contractors to hire—if they can find qualified workers. The association urged lawmakers and government officials to expand and fund employment and training programs to equip students and workers with the skills needed to become productive construction employees.

“Contractors are hopeful that demand for infrastructure, private investment and housing will remain strong in 2017,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But they need more workers to satisfy that demand. Government at all levels must step up its programs to educate and train the next generation of construction craft workers.”

Call in January 10 at 1 p.m. EST for AGC’s 2017 Construction Hiring and Business Forecasts release. Toll-Free Call-in Number: 1 (800) 874-4559; (Canadian Toll Free 1 (800) 696-0876); Verbal Pass code (to be given to the operator): TURM25524.