Tag Archive for 'transportation infrastructure'

House Committee Approves Multi-Year Transportation Bill

By Lauren Schapker, vice president of legislative affairs, ARTBA

The House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee June 18 approved in a party-line vote legislation to reauthorize the nation’s surface transportation programs.

The Investing in a New Vision for the Environment & Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act would authorize $494 billion over five years, including $309 billion for highways (a 42 percent increase over current levels) and $105 billion (72 percent increase) for the public transit program.

T&I Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said the bill “is exactly the kind of investment we need to create jobs and help our economy recover from the current pandemic.”

The measure emphasizes “state of good repair” and “fix-It-first” approaches, rather than new construction. It creates several new discretionary grant programs and adds programs to address resilience and climate change. 

ARTBA’s government relations team has compiled a comprehensive 10-page analysis that provides more details about key provisions in the 928-page bill.

The bill was drafted without Republican input. In response, the party’s T&I Committee members released their own legislation, the Surface Transportation Advanced through Reform, Technology & Efficient Review (STARTER) Act. The plan proposed a narrower view of surface transportation needs, maintaining existing funding levels, and adding policies to streamline operations and provide states with more flexibility. It was defeated on a party-line vote.

T&I Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Mo.) lamented the lack of bipartisanship he said had been present for the past five federal surface transportation laws. 

“Ultimately, this bill is a costly, seismic shift in our transportation programs, at an incredibly uncertain time when no one knows whether COVID-19 will alter the way people get around,” Graves said. He also criticized the measure for not being paid for and noted “…to pay for it with the gas tax, we’d have to double it at a time when so many Americans are struggling to make ends meet because of the pandemic.”

Bill Amendments

Nearly 200 amendments were considered during the marathon two-day markup. ARTBA sent a five-page letter to all committee members sharing the industry’s views on 36 of them.  The association’s government affairs team also engaged committee members and staff throughout the deliberations on a wide variety of amendments that would directly impact the construction market, including “Hours of Service, “local hire” preferences, and “Buy America” rules.

Among the notable adopted amendments: 

  • Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio): Repealing “fiscal constraint” requirements, an ARTBA priority, which would allow better long-term planning by state departments of transportation.
  • Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.): Allowing states to conduct their own environmental reviews, as opposed to under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
  • Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.): Prioritizing COVID-19 support for testing and prevention for critical transportation personnel.

The full House is expected to consider the bill the week of June 29.  It will likely be incorporated into a broader Democratic infrastructure package— the “Moving Forward Act,” which includes water, broadband, school construction and other infrastructure investments.

For more detailed information please click on the following links

ARTBA President Dave Bauer’s Statement

ARTBA’s Detailed Bill Analysis

ARTBA Foundation Hall of Fame Class: Two Highway Contractors, Former U.S. DOT Secretary & Engineering Family

Peter Kiewit, Jim Peterson, Norm Mineta and the Roebling Family are the 2020 inductees into the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Foundation’s Transportation Development Hall of Fame. 

Launched a decade ago, the Hall “honors individuals or families from the public and private sectors who have made extraordinary contributions to U.S. transportation development during their careers.”  Nominees are considered in two categories:

  • Transportation Design & Construction Industry Leaders (Individuals or Families): Recognizes men, women and families who have made significant contributions—beyond just having successful businesses or careers—that have notably helped advance the interests and image of the transportation design, construction and safety industry.
  • Transportation Design & Construction Industry Innovators: Honors the men and women who discovered or created a “game changing” product or process that significantly advanced transportation design, construction and/or safety.  It seeks to honor the original innovator.

Leader: Peter Kiewit (1900-1979)

Peter Kiewit transformed a small Omaha, Neb., construction company, Peter Kiewit Sons’, Inc., into one of North America’s largest and most respected contractors.  In 1931, at the age of 30, Kiewit became president of the company.  America was in the depths of the Great Depression, leading to limited building work at or below cost.  Kiewit shifted the firm’s emphasis to the highway market.  Transportation work rapidly became the largest portion of Kiewit’s business.  As a result of this shift, the company was ready when it was time to build the U.S. Interstate Highway System after World War II.  Under Kiewit’s leadership, the firm built more lane miles of the original System than any other contractor, prompting Forbes magazine to call him the “Colossus of Roads.” 

Kiewit attributed his success to the work ethic of Nebraskans, wanting to return his wealth to their communities.  Before his death, he requested his personal estate be used to establish a foundation supporting public-purpose projects in Nebraska and Western Iowa.  The Peter Kiewit Foundation has awarded more than $640 million in grants and scholarships since its founding in 1979.

Leader: Norm Mineta (1931-)

“Norm made a reputation in the Halls of Congress as someone who understands that a sound infrastructure in America will lead to economic opportunity for all Americans.”  – President George W. Bush  

The son of Japanese immigrants, Norman Y. Mineta was confined with his family in an internment camp during World War II.  It was there he vowed to serve his country throughout his life and prove that he could do great things, regardless of his background. And he did.  

Mineta began his public life as a member of his city council and then mayor of San Jose, Calif.  Serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for 20 years, Mineta chaired the Aviation & Surface Transportation Subcommittees, rising to become chairman of the Public Works & Transportation Committee.  In 1991, he was the principal author of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), which provided a then record federal surface transportation investment.

In 2000, President Clinton appointed him U.S. secretary of commerce, making him the nation’s first Asian-American Cabinet member.  In an historical rarity, he stayed in the cabinet under an administration of the opposite party, when President Bush appointed him to be his only Democratic cabinet member—as U.S. secretary of transportation.  He served 5 ½ years in that position, the longest tenure in the department’s history.  He played a high-profile in the response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, grounding all aircraft in U.S. airspace to save lives.

Following his retirement, Mineta has continued to strive to serve his country in numerous ways, including the establishment of the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose University.

Leader: Jim Peterson (1936-)

Jim Peterson, vice president, Wisconsin-based James Peterson Sons, Inc., has been a national, state and local transportation construction advocate for more than 50 years.  Peterson has made many notable impacts on Wisconsin’s transportation policy development and is a two-time Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association president (1980 & 2006).  One the hallmarks of his leadership was the ability to get a return phone call from governors, regardless of political party, when it was necessary to discuss pending infrastructure issues.

In the 1970s during an era of diminishing transportation-related revenues, Peterson led an industry effort to educate the public about these negative impacts on motorists and the economy.  He helped garner bipartisan support in the state legislature to boost infrastructure investment.

By the mid-1980s, Peterson’s tenacity was a key factor in Governor Anthony Earl (D) signing a law to index the state’s fuel tax to generate additional revenue for transportation improvements.  The next governor, Tommy Thompson (R) introduced an ambitious “Corridor 2020” highway expansion agenda.  Peterson championed its enactment.  It empowered long-term transportation modernization and is estimated that 90 percent of the jobs created in Wisconsin during the 1990s were within five miles of a Corridors 2020 route. 

Peterson’s honed political and leadership skills were put to the test again during a 1990s effort to help ensure Wisconsin was getting an equitable return on the gas tax dollars it paid into the federal Highway Trust Fund.  It resulted in TEA-21’s (1998) “minimum guarantee” and SAFETEA-LU’s (2005) “equity bonus” programs, which helped generate tens of millions of dollars in additional Wisconsin highway investment.   At the national level, Jim was 2003 chairman of The Road Information Program (TRIP).  He’s been an ARTBA director for decades and the 2000 Contractors Division president.  He’s also a recipient of the Nello Teer Award, ARTBA Contractors Division’s highest honor.

Innovators: The Roebling Family

The story of the Roebling family—John (1806-1869), Washington (1837-1926) and Emily Warren (1843-1903)—is one of bravery, heroism, and triumph over great obstacles.  Without this famous family, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge might not have come to pass.  An immigrant from Berlin, John Roebling was a civil engineer with decades of experience in road and bridge construction.

A pioneer in wire rope bridge supports, Roebling developed the modern suspension bridge and is responsible for the design and construction of numerous spans throughout the United States.  He began work on the new Brooklyn Bridge in 1867.  He was joined by his son, Washington, who had distinguished himself in both combat and military infrastructure design with the 83rd New York Artillery Battery during the Civil War. 

Following an accident at the bridge site, the elder Roebling died of tetanus and Washington took charge of the Brooklyn Bridge’s construction as chief engineer.  In 1870, fire broke out in one of the caissons and he directed the efforts to extinguish the flames.  During the rescue he contracted decompression sickness (“the bends”) rendering him bedridden.

As the only person to visit her husband during his sickness, Emily relayed information to the project team.  She developed an extensive knowledge of stress analysis, cable construction, and advanced mathematics. For the decade after Washington took to his sick bed, Emily’s dedication to the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge was unyielding.  She took over much of the chief engineer’s duties, including day-to-day supervision and project management.  Emily managed many politicians, competing engineers, and all those associated with the work on the bridge to the point where people believed she was behind the bridge’s design. The Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883.

Learn more: www.artbahalloffame.org.

Established in 1985, the ARTBA Foundation is a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt entity designed to “promote research, education and public awareness” about the impacts of transportation investment.  It supports an array of initiatives, including educational scholarships, awards, management and education programs, roadway work zone safety training, special economic research and reports, American National Standards Institute-accredited transportation project safety certification, and an exhibition on transportation at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

First-of-its-Kind Dashboard Tool Highlights Benefits of Federal Highway Investment

National and state-by-state data available: artbahighwaydashboard.org
States leveraged $31 billion in federal funds to advance $66.5 billion in highway improvements during fiscal year (FY) 2018, according to an interactive tool that for the first time provides the American public and elected officials a clear look at how and where each state invests its transportation tax dollars.
Obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) analysis of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) data displays information on more than 24,000 projects that moved forward in FY 2018.
“This dashboard helps shift the conversation about federal highway investments from apportionment tables and obligation charts to specific outcomes and benefits,” ARTBA President Dave Bauer says.  “Such transparency and accountability will help the American people better understand the value they are getting from infrastructure investments.” 
Nationally, nearly half of the projects—45 percent—were for repair or reconstruction work on existing highways in FY 2018, according to ARTBA’s Highway Dashboard: A 50-State Guide to the Benefits of Federal Investment.” Adding capacity (22 percent of funds), planning, design and construction engineering (14 percent), new construction (4 percent), planning, environmental, research and administration (2 percent), bike and pedestrian facilities (2 percent), debt service (2 percent) and utilities (1 percent), are among the other featured categories.
The dashboard allows users to visualize how each state deployed federal funds in a given year and features the top projects dating back to 1950.

The ARTBA Highway Dashboard was compiled by the association’s chief economist, Dr. Alison Premo Black.  The data is submitted by states as part of FHWA’s Fiscal Management Information System (FMIS).  

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.

Learn more: artbahighwaydashboard.org.

ARTBA Issues Statement on House “INVEST in America” Act

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee has released the “INVEST in America Act,” a surface transportation legislative proposal that calls for spending $494 billion over five-years to repair the nation’s roads, bridges, rail and public transportation systems. Please attribute the following statement to American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President and CEO Dave Bauer.
“If America can put astronauts back in space for the first time in nearly a decade with a little help from the private sector, surely we can do something similar to modernize our aging transportation network.
“With the most severe economic disruption since the Great Depression and continuity of state transportation improvement programs in doubt, the case for Congress to deliver a robustly funded infrastructure bill has never been stronger.  
“The transportation construction industry, in partnership with public agency officials, is ready to rebuild the nation’s highways, bridges and public transit systems.
“The release of the House bill complements efforts already underway in the Senate.  The FAST Act transportation law expires in less than 120 days.  It’s time to hit the gas on the legislative process to ensure that infrastructure investment springboards economic recovery.”
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.
 For more information visit www.artba.org

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