Daily Dirt

ARTBA Says Transportation Needs Neglegted

America’s transportation network has been “neglected far too long and needs major attention” in order to keep the nation competitive and facilitate future economic growth, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane told participants March 3rd at a Washington, D.C., conference hosted by Iona College and presenting sponsor Terex Corporation. Ron DeFeo, Terex CEO, also serves as an ARTBA vice chairman at-large.

Ruane said the U.S. “must have a clear and consistent long-term commitment” to address the $20 billion revenue shortfall facing the Highway Trust Fund as soon as 2010 and a corresponding shortfall facing the transit account in 2011, absent congressional action.

He called on Congress and the Obama Administration to put “all funding options on the table” during the upcoming debate on the multi-year surface transportation investment bill. These include an increase in the federal gas tax and indexing it to inflation going forward, tolling, public-private partnerships (P3), bonding and congestion pricing. He also voiced support for establishing a transition to a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax to finance future transportation projects.

The goal of the Iona “Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure for Global Competitiveness” conference was to bring “together policymakers, business leaders, labor and academic experts to discuss solutions to the challenges of planning, funding, building and maintaining the various systems required of a robust national infrastructure in an increasingly competitive global environment.”

Ruane outlined the association’s legislative priorities for the authorization bill, saying Congress should not be “looking for a one size fits all option.” He said the measure should empower states to determine the best uses of their transportation investment funds based on local needs. He also outlined ARTBA’s Critical Commerce Corridors proposal, (see video in sidebar), which is aimed at adding intermodal capacity to speed the safe and efficient movement of goods.

Former and current members of Congress and the executive branch, engineering and construction association executives, business leaders and union officials also spoke at the event.

ARTBA, which represents the U.S. transportation design and construction industry in the nation’s Capital, also sponsored the conference as part of its “Transportation Makes America Work” campaign.

Dig This

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to operate an excavator, bulldozer or skid steer? Well, now you can at the first heavy equipment play area in the United States.

Dig This is a private 10 acre work site with breath taking views of the Yampa Valley in Colorado, where you will learn to move sand, gravel, rocks and other material, dig trenches and ponds, build dams or really test your hand eye coordination by stacking rocks in a pyramid.

Your adventure begins with a short safety lesson and equipment overview. Then, under the guidance of a professionally trained instructor, you will take the controls of a modern, climate controlled, CAT 315 Excavator, CAT D5 Bulldozer or CAT 246 Skid Steer Loader.

You will be amazed by the incredible power of these machines. A simple movement of the joystick-style hand controls and you have just picked up a massive boulder or dug a four-foot deep trench.

No prior experience or training is required for any activity, says owner Ed Mumm, only the desire to have fun.

Dig This’ inspiration came to New Zealander Ed Mumm, while he was operating heavy equipment to construct his home in Steamboat Springs, CO. After having fun clearing trees and scrub oak, constructing a road, building a pond, and digging foundations he realized the potential for a business opportunity and the concept for Dig This was formed. The adventure-based facility, located in Steamboat Springs, CO, has operated since December 2007 with full-size excavators, bulldozers and skid steer loaders.

Since the opening, Dig This has provided year-round fun with structured full, half-day and two-hour courses for the public including corporate and custom programming in a safe, fun, supervised environment. Participants operate brand new full-size hydraulic excavators, track-type bulldozers, and skid steer loaders at individual work sites to construct roads, build dams, design bridge abutments, dig trenches or wherever their minds take them.

Dig This has recently added First Tracks, a new two-hour session, to it’s existing line of programs. Designed for clients with limited schedules, First Tracks provides enough time to command the controls of either a Caterpillar 315 CL hydraulic excavator or D5G track type dozer with confidence.

“First Tracks is a condensed version of our already popular full and half-day sessions,” said Ed Mumm. “With First Tracks, clients get a feel for the equipment, experience the rush and excitement, and still have plenty of time to enjoy the all that Steamboat has to offer. It’s even a great escape from the regular work day.”

First Tracks is offered 9:00 am and 1:00 pm daily, based on availability, and accommodates up to five participants. Instructors work with two clients or less. First Tracks includes shuttle service (within the surrounding Steamboat Springs area) to and from Dig This, equipment orientation, safety instruction and approximately one hour of either excavator or bulldozer operating time.

Dig This also offers Excavate and Exfoliate “as the ultimate alternative to the predictable girls’ getaway,” says Mumm. “Blending the benefits of a soothing facial with the thrill of commanding full-size heavy equipment certainly brings new meaning to the
rapeutic treatment. We’re proud to partner with the Steamboat Grand to unveil this one-of-a-kind experience.”

Dig This, along with the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel & Condominiums combines adventure, lodging and spa treatments into a package that includes a minimum half- day session at Dig This, two night stay at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel, a 50-minute European facial at the Grand Spa and daily breakfast.

Greg Sitek

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