By Greg Sitek
Translation: It’s the time of year when all the stops are removed, all the brakes are off and every resource is put into restoring, rebuilding, rejuvenating, replacing our transportation infrastructure.
There’s a lot of commentary about how bad our transportation infrastructure is and of course in today’s “information environment” you do wonder how reliable these comments are. “A new report released recently by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit, evaluates the condition, use and funding of the nation’s system of roads, bridges and transit. The TRIP report, “Funding America’s Transportation System,” finds that, as vehicle travel reaches pre-pandemic levels, 40 percent of the nation’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and seven percent of bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition. The report also finds that traffic fatality rates are the highest in a decade, 42 percent of the nation’s busiest roads experience congestion during peak travel times, and one-fifth of transit vehicles have met or exceeded their useful service life.
“The significant deficiencies on the nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems hamper mobility and access and impose additional costs on drivers. Nationwide, 19 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition and 21 percent are in mediocre condition. On the nation’s urban roads, which carry 69 percent of all vehicle travel, 32 percent are in poor condition and 24 percent are in mediocre condition. TRIP estimates that additional vehicle operating costs borne by U.S. motorists as a result of deteriorated road conditions is $141 billion annually, an average of $621 per driver. These additional vehicle operating costs (VOC) include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional vehicle repair costs, increased fuel consumption and increased tire wear. The Appendix includes the share of overall and urban pavements in poor and mediocre condition in each state and the total and per-driver additional VOC due to driving on deteriorated roads. (The report is available at: tripnet.org. An executive summary of the report is available at site-Kconstructionzone.com 03/25/2022)
Recently the first installment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will not only meet the landmark federal infrastructure law’s transportation investments, but the measure, which is on track for enactment by March 15, will add $4.3 billion to its record levels. Congressional appropriators March 9 released the details of the bipartisan agreement that will now work its way through the House and Senate. Here is the breakdown from snapshot version of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) review:
The FY 2022 package meets the IIJA slated highway investment increase from $48.4 billion in FY 2021 to $66.9 billion AND provides an additional $2.5 billion. Of that $2.5 billion, $847 million would be reserved for congressionally-designated earmarks. Congress halted the practice of earmarks in spending bills 12 years ago. The cumulative one-year highway investment increase is $21 billion, or 43 percent.
Public transportation programs will also see a major boost from the final FY 2022 funding package that includes an additional $504 million above what was called for in the IIJA. The Capital Investment Grant Program which supports transit construction activities will grow from $2.1 billion in FY 2021 to $3.9 billion, or 86 percent.
The federal airport construction program is a frequently overlooked major winner under the IIJA. The FY 2022 funding provides $554 million in supplemental Airport Improvement Program, noise abatement and earmark funds. As a result, the measure will provide $8.9 billion for airport capital improvements —a 137 percent increase. The bill would add $775 million to the $3.8 billion directed by the IIJA for multi-modal transportation grants, compared to $1 billion in FY 2021. (For more information on the bill visit artba.org)
With all this opportunity the timing couldn’t have been better for the running of the 20th Anniversary of the World of Asphalt AGG1 show in Nashville TN. Running March 29-31, 2022, this year marked the fourth return of World of Asphalt to Nashville, and the largest iteration of the show in the Music City ever, with more than 440 companies spread across more than 193,000 net square feet of the Music City Center.
“The record-breaking attendance at this AGG1 Academy & Expo and the co-located World of Asphalt shows the enthusiasm of the aggregates industry to be back in-person again. Each day the tradeshow floor and educational opportunities have been fully attended. We are thrilled to provide this top-notch experience for our exhibitors and attendees as we return to fully in-person events,” said National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association President & CEO Michael Johnson.
Education at both World of Asphalt’s People, Plants and Paving Conference and the AGG1 Academy broke records as well. The two most popular sessions were “Compaction 101: Doing the Right Things the Right Way” and “Best Practices for Residential and Commercial Paving.”
“World of Asphalt is the largest network tool you can find in the pavement industry,” said Stanley. “If anyone wants to learn about asphalt, or wants to grow their paving company, whether you’re talking asphalt, roads, dirt, or you’re talking about finding a chemical that works for you, this show pays for itself.” World of Asphalt will return to Nashville and the Music City Center March 25-27, 2024.
Without our transportation infrastructure we would not be who and what we are…