Daily Dirt

NAPA Announces Midyear Meeting

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), the only trade association that exclusively represents the interests of the Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) producer and paving contractor on the national level with Congress, government agencies, and other national trade and business organizations, announced that its Midyear Meeting, being held July 27-29, 2009 at the Hilton Head Marriott Beach and Golf Resort in South Carolina, is set to deliver valuable educational and networking events to the asphalt industry. The schedule includes very timely plenary sessions designed to provide attendees with takeaways that will help them grow their market. The NAPA committee meetings are scheduled to take place as well.

Kicking off the program is Emmy Award-winning radio and TV host John Powers, who will speak on the art and science of leadership.

NAPA president Mike Acott will present “Industry at a Crossroads” which will provide an executive summary of the progress in dealing with the major issues facing the industry. You will hear the very latest on the fumes issue, highway funding, and the six core areas that will expand the market for asphalt. The focus will be on deliverables – ideas you can take away from the meeting to help you improve your bottom line.

Washington Update: Highway Funding at a Defining Moment,” featuring Doug Black of Oldcastle Materials Inc., Jack Basso of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and Greg Cohen of America Highway Users Alliance (AHUA), will provide attendees with vitally important information to properly assess current and future market conditions based on the decisions Congress may make this year. As America’s highways, roads, and bridges fall further into a state of disrepair, and the revenues flowing into the Highway Trust Fund are no longer capable of supporting the current rate of federal highway spending, steering our nation’s transportation financial system back into the black with enough funding to meet current and future needs will be critical to the long-term viability of the asphalt pavement industry.

Registration for the NAPA Midyear Meeting and educational program is open to NAPA members and other industry personnel. More information on the meeting and online registration is available at http://www.hotmix.org/.

EPA Awards California $440 Million in ARRA Funds for Water Infrastructure Projects

In a move that stands to create jobs, boost local economies, improve aging water and wastewater infrastructure and protect human health and the environment for the people in the State of California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $440 million to California. This new infusion of money provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will help the state and local governments finance many of the overdue improvements to water projects that are essential to protecting public health and the environment across the state.

“This remarkable opportunity to provide much-needed support for sustainable water and energy-efficient drinking water and wastewater systems throughout the U.S. is unprecedented,” said Laura Yoshii, EPA acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This funding will allow California to identify its highest infrastructure priorities, protect human health and surface water quality, address climate change, and create critical green jobs as a foundation for a sustainable future.”

The State Water Resources Control Board’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund(CWSRF) program for wastewater treatment, pollution control and estuary management projects was awarded $280 million. It provides low-interest loans for water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management.

The California Department of Public Health’s Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SDWSRF) program received $159 million for drinking-water infrastructure improvements. It provides low-interest loans for drinking water systems to finance infrastructure improvements. The program also emphasizes providing funds to small and disadvantaged communities and to programs that encourage pollution prevention as a tool for ensuring safe drinking water.

Top priority will go to projects in disadvantaged communities – where the population makes 80 percent or less of the state median household income.

“This money is wonderful for those communities that don’t have the ability to pay back those loans,” said Barbara Evoy, deputy director of the State Water Resources Control Board. “The jobs they need in those areas are extra important, and we’re very happy to solve a water-quality problem as well as help in job creation.”

The size of projects vying to receive grants or loans varies from $8,000 to install water meters in the Adams Springs Water District in Lake County to $22 million for a similar, though much larger, project in the city of Sacramento.

The money is expected to spur hundreds of new water infrastructure projects as well as jump-start those stalled by California’s budget disaster, state and federal officials said.

The award is a share of the unprecedented $6 billion dollars in water system improvement funds that will be awarded to water and wastewater infrastructure projects across the country under the Recovery Act in the form of low-interest loans, principal forgiveness and grants. At least 20% of the funds provided under the Recovery Act are to be used for green infrastructure, water and energy efficiency improvements and other environmentally innovative projects.

$1.5 Billion In TIGER Discretionary Grants Available For Capital Investment In Surface Transportation Projects

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced the availability of $1.5 billion in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grants for capital investment in surface transportation projects. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or metropolitan area a
nd can create jobs and benefit economically distressed areas.

“TIGER discretionary funding will open up the door to many new innovative and cutting-edge transportation projects,” said Secretary LaHood. “This is exciting news and I believe that these projects will promote greater mobility, a cleaner environment and more livable communities.”

Applications for TIGER discretionary grants must be submitted by September 15, 2009, from state and local governments, including U.S. territories, tribal governments, transit agencies, port authorities and others. Comments on the criteria must be received by June 1, 2009.

The grants can range from $20 million up to $300 million to support high impact transportation projects. Secretary LaHood can waive the minimum grant requirement for beneficial projects in smaller cities, regions or states. The U.S. Department of Transportation will require rigorous economic justifications for projects over $100 million. To ensure responsible spending, the department will require all fund recipients to report on their activities on a routine basis.

The solicitation published in the May 18th Federal Register provides clear criteria for the department to make merit-based decisions on the new discretionary program.

Primary selection criteria include contributing to the medium to long-term economic competitiveness of the nation, improving the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, improving the quality of living and working environments through livable communities, improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the safety of U.S. transportation facilities.

The Department will also give priority to projects that are expected to quickly create and preserve jobs and stimulate rapid increases in economic activity, especially projects that will benefit economically distressed areas.

Note: To view the Federal Register, please go here. Look under Transportation Department, Notices: funding Availability; Request for Comments on Grant Criteria; Supplemental Discretionary Grants for Capital Investments in Surface Transportation Infrastructure.

Greg Sitek

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