Daily Dirt

PA Congressman Sestak Releases Updated List of Regional “Shovel Ready” Projects

Congressman Joe Sestak (PA-07), in coordination with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), is providing an updated list of projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot), the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA), and the Federal Highway Administration. All of the projects listed below are “shovel ready” and will have a direct impact on the transportation infrastructure of the 7th Congressional District. With adequate funding, these essential local projects can begin within 90 to 120 days.

Highway Projects

County Project Title Amount (millions) Responsible Agency

Montco I-476: Pavement and Bridge Repairs $33.7 PennDot District 6

Montco Route 422: Pavement and Bridge Repairs $17.8 PennDot District 6

Delco I-95: Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Extension $17.5 PennDot District 6

Delco ADA Ramp Reconstruction $8.15 PennDot District 6

Chesco ADA Ramp Reconstruction $7.15 PennDot District 6

Chesco Route 30: Pavement and Bridge Repairs $6.0 PennDot District 6

Montco ADA Ramp Reconstruction $2.4 PennDot District 6

Total Funding: $92.70 million

Local Road Projects

County Project Title Amount (millions) Responsible Agency

Montco 1-76 Westbound at Henderson Road: New Off-Ramp and Relocated On-Ramp $14.5 Upper Merion Township

Chesco Chester Valley Trail: Multi-Use Trail $5.0

Chesco State Street Bridge Removal $1.5

Delco Edgmont Avenue: Installation of 72 Curb Cut/Ramps $0.43 Brookhaven Borough

Delco Newtown Street and Whitehorse Roads Signalization $0.12 Newtown Township

Delco Upgrade Traffic Signals to LEDs $0.12 Darby, Brookhaven, and Norwood Boroughs

Montco Enhancements to Flourtown and Erdenheim Village Shopping Districts and Valley Green Road Commerical Center $0.11 Springfield Township

Total Funding: $21.78 million

Valley Forge National Park Roads

County Project Title Amount (millions) Responsible Agency

Montco/Chestco Valley Forge National Historical Park Pavement Management $1.37 National Park Service

Total Funding: $1.37 million

SEPTA Projects

County Project Title Amount (millions) Responsible Agency

Montco/Chestco/Delco Purchase 40 hybrid buses $18.69 SEPTA

Chesco R5 Paoli/Thorndale Line – Malvern Station Parking Lot and Other Improvements $12.4 SEPTA

Delco Media-Sharon Hill Line, Routes 101/102 – Rail Work $12.3 SEPTA

Delco Media-Sharon Hill Line, Routes 101/102 – Truck Line Grade Crossings $12.3 SEPTA

Delco Media-Sharon Hill Line, Routes 101/102 – Track Work $9.0 SEPTA

Delco R3 Media/Elwyn Line – Track Bed Stabilization $7.3 SEPTA

Delco Media-Sharon Hill Line, Routes 101/102 – Installation of Fiber Optic Cable for Power Control & Passage Information System $6.1 SEPTA

Montco Rehabilitation of 5 Bridges:

R5 Lansdale Bridges (3)

R5 Paoli/Thorndale Bridge

Norristown High-Speed Line: Bridgeport-Norristown Viaduct $5.3 SEPTA

Montco/Chestco

Delco R5 Paoli/Thorndale Line – Signage Upgrades for 17 Stations:

Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Rosemont, Radnor, St. David’s, Strafford, Devon, Berwyn, Daylesford, Paoli, Whitford, Downingtown, and Thorndale $4.9 SEPTA

Delco Darby Transit Center Renovation and Site Expansion $3.3 SEPTA

Delco Media Line, Routes 101 – Highway Grade Crossing Warning Device Replacements at 10 Crossings:

Wildell Ave, Scenic Rd, E. Springfield Rd, Saxer Ave, W. Leamy Rd, W. Woodland Ave, Thomson Ave, Paper Mill Rd, Pine Ridge Rd, and Beatty Rd. $2.7 SEPTA

Delco Media-Sharon Hill Line, Routes 101/102 – Painting of Steel Catenary Structures $1.5 SEPTA

Delco R3 Media/Elwyn Line – Additional Parking at the Elwyn Station $1.3 SEPTA

Delco 69th Street Terminal – Restroom Renovation $0.7 SEPTA

Total Funding: $97.8 million

To facilitate the implementation of the Recovery Act and maximize its benefits for the 7th District, Congressman Sestak will hold a Business Procurement Summit on Friday, March 27, 2009, at the Springfield Country Club from 8:00am to 4:30pm. This event will provide educational and networking resources to those interested in government contracting as well as direct access to federal and state government procurement agencies and prime contractors. There will also be an extensive discussion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the local funding opportunities available. Registration is available online at http://www.sestak.house.gov/upcoming_events.shtml. For questions about the Summit, please contact Molly Abbott at 610-892-8623.

Alabama Unions, Contractors Join Forces In Skilled Trade Worker Plan

The State of Alabama’s organized labor unions and non-union contractor associations are joining forces to attract the next generation of skilled construction craft employees to replace an aging workforce. Unions and contractors support bills in the 2009 legislative session that would create and self-finance the Alabama Construction Workforce Development Institute to be housed within the existing 21st Century Development Authority.

Why? Supporters fear that their ranks will be depleted as older workers retire. Craft trades such as welding, pipefitting, steelwork and plumbing are usually perceived as drudgery, although historically, they have paid well.

Jay Reed, president of Associated Builders and Contractors of Alabama, said the institute would conduct a campaign to explain the construction craft trades and to improve their image to students, beginning as early as junior high school.

Reed said that within a generation, the ranks of the skilled, non-residential construction trades could be depleted without new blood. With the average skilled trade worker in his or her 40’s or 50’s, the gap is only growing worse, and that’s what’s driving the unusual cooperation between unions and non-union employers.

“This has been a perfect fit for the [contractors and unions] working on this project, and we’re raising a lot of eyebrows working together,” said Leroy Nicholson, director of the Alabama AFL-CIO Labor Institute for Training. “You have to change the way of thinking and work together if you’re going to survive.”

“For us to go hand-in-hand with the union is certainly unusual, but this is bigger than either group, and working together we can both be effective,” Reed said. “We see this as non-controversial and getting people to look at construction, and once they get here, it’s up to the employer to keep them in the sector.”

Welding, electrical, pipefitting, steelwork, plumbing and other craft trades historically have paid well, but the perception i
s that the work is dirty.

“That’s people’s views of it, dirty jobs,” said Bill Caton, director of work force development for the Alabama Associated General Contractors (ALAGC) , another contractors organization. “A lot of these jobs aren’t [dirty], and you can make $30 an hour. We’ve got to tell people what their career opportunities are, and we have done a terrible job on that.”

Skilled trades build non-residential projects like nuclear plants, government and private office buildings, and industrial plants.

“Somebody has to build that plant to specifications and someone has to build the infrastructure to attract [the plant] in the first place,” Caton said.

A prime example is German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp’s $4 billion steel mill under construction in north Mobile County. About 2,000 workers are building the mill now, and that number could grow to 10,000 later this year, Gov. Bob Riley said.

Perhaps more glamorous, though somewhat smaller, examples of projects that require skilled tradesmen are the expansions of Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa and the new $90 million Auburn University basketball arena.

Despite the recession, the demand for skilled workers is expected to grow by nearly 20 percent over the next decade.

By 2016, the number of non-residential construction jobs will reach 268,810, up from 225,720 in 2006, according to the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

“The construction trade is growing faster than employment overall,” said Jim Henry, information director for the department’s Labor Market Information division.

The bills to create and fund the training institute, introduced by Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators, are on the Senate calendar to be considered.

One bill would create the institute as an arm of the state’s existing 21st Century Development Authority. The other would authorize a fee of $90 per $100,000 of construction job payroll, which would be paid by the employer to support a public relations campaign to identify and attract young men and women to the skilled trades. The goal is to create a fund of $1.75 million.

Joe Perkins, a public relations executive, said surveys show that men and women 18 to 24, their parents and guidance counselors generally know little if anything about the construction trades.

“The bottom line on the research is they had no idea what the construction trade is,” Perkins said. “These construction jobs for young people, they’re going to make as much as someone their same age or more with a four-year college degree.”

“We need a major makeover in the worst way,” said the AGC’s Caton. “People do not know about our industry and don’t realize the opportunities in it. We’re not getting the flow of talent we need to sustain ourselves.”

Greg Sitek

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