Tag Archive for 'Washington'

ARTBA Takes Legal Action on Maryland Purple Line Transit Project

Amicus Brief Cites Potential Negative Environmental & P3 Precedents

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Aug. 23 told a federal appeals court that a lower court ruling blocking the Maryland Purple Line is an abuse of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and poses risks for the future of similar public-private partnerships (P3s) on transportation improvement projects.

The 16-mile Purple Line light-rail project between Bethesda and New Carrolton, Maryland, is one of the nation’s largest P3 transit projects.  While expected to secure $900 million in federal funding, the project has been mired in litigation since 2014 by anti-growth opponents.

In August 2016, a lower court halted construction saying the Federal Transit Administration failed to consider declining ridership on the Washington, D.C. Metro system.  Both the federal government and the state of Maryland appealed the decision contending that there was no obligation under NEPA to consider ridership on the Metro system.

In an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit, ARTBA said the lower court ruling could have negative impacts and set bad precedents on the environment and the ability of other states to move forward on P3s.  Such impacts, ARTBA warned, could jeopardize renewed bipartisan congressional focus on the nation’s infrastructure, which the association notes is “in disrepair and in desperate need of substantial upgrades.”  It could also undercut the efforts of the current Administration, like others before it, to improve the timeliness of the environmental review process, ARTBA said.

“If plaintiffs or courts can upend the culmination of the onerous NEPA process for economic or policy reasons having nothing to do with the environment, the ensuing uncertainty and delay would discourage public and private investment needed to rebuild and improve the country’s transportation infrastructure.  These concerns are particularly heightened for P3s, which are central to modern infrastructure financing and development,” the ARTBA brief argued.

Particularly for P3s, the ARTBA brief noted that the district court’s ruling “injects new delay and litigation risks, thereby stifling the growth of this key financing mechanism to leverage and combine governmental and private dollars and responsibilities to meet the nation’s exigent transportation needs.”  Specifically, the brief noted a single month of delay can increase a project’s costs by 1.5 percent – a significant amount for the more than $2 billion in construction costs associated with the Purple Line.

In asking for the district court ruling to be reversed, the association’s brief concluded: “The public and private parties engaged in Maryland’s Purple Line have expended many years, millions of dollars, and enormous energy into a legislated P3 that serves as a model for financing, building, and operating future transit projects nationwide. The desperately needed Purple Line is being challenged by a parochial few in Chevy Chase, the location of just one of the Purple Line’s 21 stations knitting together communities along 16 miles between Bethesda and New Carrollton. That obstruction and delay have been sustained by lower court rulings that completely misconstrue NEPA’s fundamental purpose and requirements.”

Submission of briefs in the case is expected to conclude Sept. 29.  No date has been set for oral arguments.

Read the full text of ARTBA’s legal brief (link).

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

Interesting Events

By Greg Sitek

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to participate, live and digitally, in several events that have or will have an impact on our world. They involved asphalt, tires and mobility and the introduction of a new piece of equipment.

Mobility is at the heart of all our activities. It’s a basic human need, both social and economic, as well as
a powerful environmental constraint. The challenge that we must now meet is: provide good solutions for society and the planet and make them a level of responsible corporate development. Critical components of mobility are the construction industries – roads & bridges, rail, waterways, ports & terminals, buildings — residential, commercial, industrial, institutional – infrastructure. Without the construction industries paving the way society would become stagnant.

The bottom line is that “mobility” is an essential component in today’s world but mobility has to be done responsibly. In this issue is an article on Movin’On.

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) recently presented field test results for its LX1 prototype electric hybrid wheel loader to a group in California. Included were Volvo’s customer Waste Management, which carried out the field tests, CALSTART, which conducted emission tests on the machine, and the California Energy Commission, which helped fund the LX1 project. Since the end of last year, the LX1 has performed hundreds of hours of real work in two applications at Waste Management facilities in California.

The LX1 prototype cuts fuel consumption radically while delivering quiet reliable performance that leaves a small carbon footprint. A full-size diesel-electric loader?

Yes. You can see and listen to it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/BMPS3kWoAg8 and there is an article on it in this issue.

And then there was a webinar on a perpetual design software update.

The Asphalt Pavement Alliance introduced Version 4.3 of PerRoad Perpetual Pavement design software. Developed at Auburn University, PerRoad uses the mechanistic-empirical design philosophy to estimate stresses and strains that would prove detrimental for fatigue cracking or structural rutting.

PerRoad Version 4.3 incorporates recent research conducted on the Pavement Test Track at the National Center for Asphalt Technology at Auburn University and then validated with live traffic on Perpetual Pavement sections. The new features allow PerRoad to perform a conventional mechanistic-empirical (M-E) design to directly compare against Perpetual Pavement designs. It can also use strain distribution or a single endurance limit strain value to design a Perpetual Pavement.

“Perpetual Pavement designs allow us to limit distresses to the easily repaired surface,” stated David Timm, Ph.D., P.E., developer of PerRoad. “By coupling layered elastic analysis with a statistical analysis procedure, PerRoad helps a designer understand the layer thicknesses and other values that will ensure a long-life asphalt pavement.”

PerRoad, which is available for free from www.AsphaltRoads.org/PerRoad uses the mechanistic-empirical design philosophy. The program couples layered elastic analysis with a statistical analysis procedure (Monte Carlo simulation) to estimate stresses and strains within a pavement. Version 4.3 provides design results as percentile responses and as conventional designs with transfer functions.

Perpetual roads are…

Ten departments of transportation were named winners of the 2016 Perpetual Pavement Award by Asphalt Pavement Alliance (APA). The award celebrates long-life asphalt pavements that reflect the characteristics of a Perpetual Pavement design. The award is presented to state transportation departments and local agency road owners for well-performing asphalt pavements that are at least 35 years old with a proven high-quality structural design.

To earn the award, the pavement must not have suffered a structural failure, and it should have an average interval between resurfacing of no less than 13 years. The road must demonstrate excellence in design, quality in construction, and value to taxpayers. Engineers at the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) at Auburn University, evaluated the nominations and validated the results for this year’s Perpetual Pavement Award winners.

Since the Perpetual Pavement Award was first presented in 2001, 118 pavements in 30 U.S. states and one Canadian province have been honored with the award.

The states winning the 2016 award were: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington. For details visit: http://www.asphaltroads.org/news/post/asphalt-pavement-alliance-announces-winners-2016-perpetual-pavement-awards/