Tag Archive for 'infrastructure'

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TRIP Report:Deficient Roadways Cost Texas Drivers A Total Of $25.1 Billion Statewide – As Much As $1,800 Per Motorist. Costs Will Rise And Transportation Woes Will Worsen Without Significant Funding Boost

TRIPThe report includes regional pavement condition, congestion and highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Houston and San Antonio.

Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Texas motorists a total of $25.1 billion statewide annually –as much as $1,800 per driver in some Deficient-roads-cost-Final-four-areasurban areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays.   Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road and bridge conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Texas, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, Texas Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Texas, 16 percent of major urban roads and highways provide motorists with a rough ride. Nearly one-fifth of Texas bridges are in need of replacement, repairs or modernization. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And, Texas’ traffic fatality rate is significantly higher than the national fatality rate.

Driving on deficient roads costs each Texas driver as much as $1,850 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 cost of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculated the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in Texas’ largest urban areas: Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Houston and San Antonio. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each urban area along with a statewide total is below.

Sixteen percent of Texas’ major urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition.  An additional 51 percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 33 percent are rated in in good condition. Driving on rough roads costs all Texas motorists a total of $5.7 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Texas, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.

A total of 19 percent of Texas’ state maintained bridges are currently in need of replacement, repair or modernization. Two percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. An additional 17 percent of the state’s bridges are designated as functionally obsolete because they no longer meet current highway design standards.

Traffic crashes in Texas claimed the lives of 16,041 people between 2009 and 2013. Texas’ traffic fatality rate of 1.41 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is 27 percent higher than the national average of 1.11.  The traffic fatality rate on Texas’ non-Interstate rural roads was 2.63 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, more than two-and-a-half times higher than the 0.99 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel on all other roads and highways in the state.

The efficiency of Texas’ transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  A 2007 analysis by the Federal Highway Administration found that every $1 billion invested in highway construction would support approximately 27,800 jobs.

The federal surface transportation program is a critical source of funding in Texas.  But a lack of adequate funding of the federal program may result in a significant cut in federal funding for Texas’ roads, highways and bridges.  The impact of inadequate federal surface transportation revenues could be felt as early as August when the balance in the Highway Account of the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to drop below $1 billion, which will trigger delays in the federal reimbursement to Texas and other states for road, highway and bridge projects, which would likely result in Texas and other states delaying numerous projects.  And, if a lack of adequate revenue into the Federal Highway Trust Fund is not addressed by Congress, funding for highway and transit improvements in Texas could be cut by $3.4 billion for the federal fiscal year beginning October 1, 2014 according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office.

“These conditions are only going to get worse if greater funding is not made available at the state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Unless Congress acts this year to adequately fund the Federal Highway Trust Fund, Texas is going to see its federal funding decrease dramatically starting this summer. This will result in fewer road repair projects, loss of jobs and a burden on the state’s economy.”

Product Applications: Dowel Drills — Faster Repairs Fewer Headaches

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PCA Urges: Congressional Action Needed for Proper Water Safeguards

PCALast week, Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) introduced Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act (H.R. 5078). This bipartisan legislation establishes safeguards that preserve important federal-state partnerships in protecting our nation’s waterways.

The bill is scheduled for full mark-up by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Wednesday, July 16 at 10 a.m.

A proposed rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers would redefine “waters of the United States” and expand the scope of federal jurisdiction. Cement plants in the United States currently comply with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits that require strict adherence to water quality guidelines. However, the proposed rule is confusing and ambiguous, and will likely add requirements to water permits. For example, an added provision in the proposed rule is that “waters of the United States” may be defined “on a case-specific basis,” and consequently, infrastructure projects and construction site developments could be delayed due to increased hydrological and geological surveys to determine jurisdictional questions.

“As proposed, the rule could undermine cement manufacturing’s long-term investment by preventing full access to limestone deposits,” Cary Cohrs, chairman of the Portland Cement Association (PCA) Board of Directors said. “Cement is vital to maintaining and building our nation’s infrastructure. The EPA and the Corps must fully consider the potential economic impacts that the proposed rule may place on the regulated community and on state and local governments as well as the construction and building sectors.”

The Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act will provide the proper safeguards against regulatory overreach while allowing industry the certainty necessary to improve our nation’s economy.

About PCA

Based in Washington, DC, with offices in Skokie, Illinois, and nine regions throughout the nation, the Portland Cement Association represents cement manufacturing companies in the United States. It conducts market development, engineering, research, education, and public affairs programs. More information on PCA programs is available at www.cement.org.

 

ARTBA President Reacts to Congressional Developments Relating to the Highway Trust Fund

image002The following statement is from American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane:

“While we appreciate the efforts of the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees to move forward this week on their respective plans to keep federal transportation funds flowing to the states, these actions must not be the latest ‘punt and leave the stadium’ strategy that has plagued the federal surface transportation program for far too long.

“The Highway Trust Fund has been limping from crisis to crisis for the past six years as America’s transportation network continues to decline.  Therefore, our message to Congress is simple: your job isn’t close to being done.

“It’s incumbent upon lawmakers in the House and Senate, and officials from the Obama Administration before the end of 2014 to develop a long-term and sustainable Highway Trust Fund solution that supports future transportation capital investments.  Anything less ignores the fragile state of our nation’s economy and does a great disservice to the tens of millions of American motorists, businesses, and workers who rely on the transportation network every day to support their livelihoods.”

The HILL Reports: House panel approves stopgap highway bill

 http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/211845-house-panel-approves-stopgap-highway-bill#ixzz37B0ovxcj 

The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday approved a stopgap bill to prevent a bankruptcy in the Highway Trust Fund, setting up a fight with Senate Democrats over how long the funding should last.

The panel approved by voice vote a $10.5 billion bill that would extend until May transportation funding that is now scheduled to run out at the end of August.

The chairman of the panel, Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), cast the measure as a more transparent effort to debate transportation funding issues than a rival Senate plan that would expire during the lame-duck session after the midterm elections.

“We all know what lame-duck deals look like, and more importantly, how they come together,” Camp said before the vote on Thursday.

“They are not done in this room and they are not done by the members of this committee. Maybe one or two of us will be consulted, but they are often leadership deals with the committees on the outside looking in.”

The House measure would provide a one-time cash infusion into the Department of Transportation’s Highway Trust Fund, which Obama administration officials have said will run out of money next month without congressional action.

The House GOP proposal would provide $7.7 billion for highways and $2 billion for public transportation systems, according to the bicameral Joint Committee on Taxation. The bulk of the funding would be offset by revenue from federal pension changes and a fee that is paid by travelers who use U.S. customs facilities.

The proposal would also take $1 billion from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Trust Fund, a funding mechanism that Camp said Thursday was also used in the last transportation funding bill that was approved by lawmakers in 2012.

“These are policies everyone at the dais is familiar with, they are policies that will provide the funding we need, and they are the only policies that will pass both the House and Senate in time to fund the trust fund after the end of this month. So, I see no reason why we cannot work to get this done right away,” Camp said.

The traditional source of transportation funding has long been the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax. The tax has been stagnant for 21 years, however, and it has struggled to keep pace with infrastructure expenses in recent years as cars have become more fuel efficient.

The result has been a shortfall in federal transportation spending that budget analysts estimate is in the neighborhood of $16 billion per year.

The gas tax typically brings in about $34 billion per year, but the current transportation funding bill that is scheduled to expire in September includes more than $50 billion in annual road and transit spending. Transportation advocates have said the current funding level is the bare minimum Congress can spend on infrastructure projects to maintain the nation’s road and transit systems.

The GOP proposal relies mostly on revenue from pension changes and customs fees to offset the bulk of the cost of replenishing the Highway Trust Fund.

Democrats have pushed to have an approximately $9 billion short-term transportation bill that relies on similar funding sources.

But Democrats in the House and Senate diverge on how long the stopgap should last. Infrastructure advocates have said pushing the issue to the lame-duck could help them convince lawmakers to approve an increase in the federal gas tax.

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee said Thursday that lawmakers would be unlikely to approve a long-term transportation bill if they put off a decision until later in the year.

“Soon we’re going to find ourselves in the middle of a presidential election, and you know how much fun this issue will be when the guns go off for the race for the White House, which I suspect is going to be in November this year,” Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) said.

“We still have time in the 113th [Congress] to make some tough decisions, but everyone’s so God-danged afraid of making tough decisions around here, especially anything involving revenue,” Kind continued.

Camp rejected raising the gas tax to pay for transportation projects, however.

“The Senate appears to be heading down a road of higher taxes for more spending,” he said. “That’s not a path forward in the House.”

Democrats criticized Republicans leaders in the House for relying on accounting maneuvers to pay for a short-term transportation funding package instead of increasing the gas tax, which has paid for maintenance of U.S. roads since the 1930s.

“We are grabbing all over the shelf for money to take care of transportation funding for the next 10 months, over the next 10 years,” Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said. “The Peter’s that are getting the money are robbing the Paul’s that have nothing to do with transportation.”

The gas tax was last increased in the first year of President Clinton’s administration in 1993.

The current transportation bill, which includes the authorization for the government to collect the gas tax at all, is scheduled to expire on Sept. 30.

Read more: http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/211845-house-panel-approves-stopgap-highway-bill#ixzz37B0ovxcj