Tag Archive for 'roads'

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ABC Comments: President Trump’s Apprenticeship Expansion Helps All Americans Build America

Associated Builders and Contractors applauded President Donald J. Trump on today’s executive action on apprenticeships, which is an important step toward building new career opportunities for all Americans.

If fully implemented, the order will allow industries to build innovative workforce development systems that address glaring skills gaps in our workforce.  With the construction industry currently facing a workforce shortage of as many as 500,000 jobs, this order is an important first step to allow more entryways into becoming a construction professional.

“Associated Builders and Contractors looks forward to working with the secretaries of labor, commerce and education to implement the executive order and develop new, innovative and effective models to train an expanding American workforce,” said ABC President and CEO Mike Bellaman.  “With our industry in need of half a million workers today and even more in the future, we need to expand upon current apprenticeship methods that have left us with a worker shortage and embrace an all-of-the-above training approach to meet the needs of a 21st century workforce. ”

ABC and its 70 chapters are doing their part to train construction professionals using state-of-the-art and flexible learning models like “earn while you learn,” just-in-time task training, competency-based progression, work-based learning and government-registered apprenticeships to build a safe, skilled and productive workforce.

In addition to an annual investment of $1.1 billion dollars into work-based training by ABC member companies, ABC local chapters and affiliated training centers offer more than 800 apprenticeship, craft, safety and management training programs around the country, including Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship programs.  In partnership with the industry-recognized curriculum and credentials developed by NCCER, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) education foundation, ABC offers this training at over 1,400 locations across America.

ABC is looking forward to working with President Trump and Secretaries Acosta, Ross and DeVos to craft industry programs that expand the U.S. Department of Labor’s definition of registered apprenticeship and offer all Americans the opportunity to achieve their dreams and build a fulfilling career.

Learn more about how ABC is building the people who build America at workforce.abc.org.

Topcon announces concrete paving ‘Roadshow’ in Montana

Topcon announces concrete paving ‘Roadshow’ in Montana

Topcon Positioning Systems announces a “Roadshow” focused on stringless concrete paving is being held from June 22 – 23 in Belgrade, Montana. The sessions are designed to provide demonstrations of Millimeter GPS systems on GOMACO slipform pavers in a hands-on environment.

“This Roadshow is an excellent opportunity for a real-world experience with the Topcon 3D paving system in the field,” said Brian Lingobardo, systems manager for 3D paving. “GOMACO and Topcon application experts will be on-hand to answer any questions and explain how Millimeter GPS can offer increased productivity, time and labor savings for paving contractors.”

The live demonstrations are scheduled to be divided by application, with the Thursday session focusing on Millimeter GPS on a GOMACO Commander III Xtreme curb and gutter machine — and the Friday session featuring the 3D stringless system with a GOMACO Four-Track Commander III mainline paver. Treasure State Inc. is providing the machines and 3D equipment for the event to showcase the stringless workflow.

The Roadshow event is being held near Concrete Materials of Montana near Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport at 5723 Thorpe Road, Belgrade, Montana. To RSVP, contact RDO Integrated Controls at 877-90-RDOIC (877-907-3642).

For more information, visit topconpositioning.com

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

 FAA’s regulatory reform advisory committee submitted initial recommendations to agency staff.  Seems like there ought to be some good ideas in the mix – after all, the draft is 154 pages containing over 300 individual suggestions to repeal, replace or modify regulatory language.  This is a rough draft listing all of the ideas from committee members.  Next steps: further review and working towards consensus on changes FAA can make to provide near-term regulatory relief consistent with the goals in the President’s Executive Order seeking a long term strategy promoting safe and efficient transportation systems.
*  Nothing to see here, folks – keep moving… Some concerns/comments sent from citizen John Doe re DOT’s regulatory reforms.  Mr. Doe identifies himself as a highway engineer, working for a consulting company, with 20 years experience: ** Multiple standards result in far too many personal preferences and design changes and sometime higher costs. ** Property owners with political connections get preferential treatment, e.g., one state recently spent $80 million on an interchange that could have cost $50 million but a Big Guy knew the governor and he wanted a “non standard” interchange to remain near his business. ** State pension issues are leading experienced people to bail out; inexperienced staff left behind cause design and construction problems.

*  The National Coal Council’s (NCC) June Newsletter cites a report from a group called GCube Underwriting, Ltd, a “renewable energy underwriter,” based in London.  GCube cautions that “resource risk” – a lack of wind or low wind speeds – will be the most pressing concern for the wind energy sector “for a number of years.” Low wind speeds are reportedly hurting the performance of wind farms in numerous markets. In fact, GCube writes that resource risk has now surpassed mechanical and electrical breakdowns as the top potential cause of financial loss.  I sent an email to GCube asking for their full report… No reply yet.

Tom Ewing
“reply” or 
513-379-5526 voice/text

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.