Foxx highlights job creation during trips to Kentucky, Tennessee

Foxx visits the Ohio River Bridges project during his "Invest in America, Commit to the Future" bus tour. (Photo Credit: U.S. DOT)

Foxx visits the Ohio River Bridges project during his “Invest in America, Commit to the Future” bus tour. (Photo Credit: U.S. DOT)

After his visits to Kentucky and Tennessee on Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx reiterated one word: jobs.

He visited Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee for the second day of his “Invest in America, Commit to the Future” bus tour.

His first stop in Louisville was the Ohio River Bridges project, which is set for completion in 2016. In a post on the DOT’s Fast Lane blog, Foxx notes that the completed bridge will be the first new bridge in the Louisville area in more than 50 years.

Foxx says the project “will support more than 4,000 construction and engineering jobs” and will generate economic growth that creates an additional 15,000 jobs.

“At DOT, we were enormously proud to have provided roughly $1 billion in federal funding and loans to build this project,” Foxx writes. “It’s a pretty good investment when you consider that money is going to a project that will have an $87-billion-dollar economic impact on this community and our country.”

While in Louisville, Foxx also stopped by the UPS Worldport. On the DOT’s blog, Foxx points out how transportation investment affects jobs beyond those in the transportation industry.

“By 2050, we’re going to have to haul an additional 14 billion tons of freight around this country,” Foxx writes. “Needless to say, without new investment, supply chains will fall apart, hindering job growth and harming retailers, manufacturers, and the millions of American consumers who need their goods to be transported efficiently and affordably.

Foxx’s last stop of the day was the Intestate 40 bridges in Nashville, Tennessee. Foxx paints a picture on the Fast Lane blog of these nearly 46-year-old bridges.

“In fact, just last summer, the Charlotte Avenue bridge was closed not once, but three times, because chunks of concrete kept crumbling and falling onto cars and the roadway,” Foxx writes.

He notes that the bridges carry 130,000 vehicles daily.

Foxx says the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) plans to “rehabilitate the steel and bridge decks on all four bridges and re-pave about three miles of connecting roadways on I-40.” In the title of the blog, Foxx notes that the project is “an opportunity to improve lives [and] create jobs.”

To read about Foxx’s visit to Ohio on Monday, click here.

Massachusetts House, Senate pass $12.7 billion transportation bond bill

Massachusetts State Capitol (Photo Credit: A Travel Broad)

Massachusetts State Capitol (Photo Credit: A Travel Broad)

Massachusetts could soon see billions of dollars worth of transportation projects across the state.

The state’s House and Senate have passed a $12.7 billion transportation bond bill that would authorize spending for many projects, including high-profile highway and rail projects, the Herald News reports.

The bill includes earmarks such as $100,000 for intersection improvements at Tronic Square in Worcester and $100 million for improvement to the South Coast Rail corridor. The bill sets aside $2.3 billion total for the corridor.

Other items authorized in the bill include:

  • $325 to improve South Station in Boston

  • $1.3 billion to extend MBTA’s Green Line to Medford

  • $2.5 billion for new Red Line and Orange Line trains

  • $300 million to improve local roads

Related: Massachusetts’ $12.4 billion transportation plan covers state, local needs

The bill also doubles fare evasion fines on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), as well as dozens of small transportation projects.

The next step in the bill becoming law is for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to sign off on it, which could happen as early as Thursday.

What the latest Obamacare update means for your business

Midsize employers don’t have to provide health insurance in 2015; full-time employee definition changed to 40 hours for health care reform

(Photo Credit: txking / Shutterstock.com)

(Photo Credit: txking / Shutterstock.com)

The employer mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – a.k.a. Obamacare – that would require companies with 50 or more full-time employees to offer affordable health care coverage to employees and their dependents (an employee’s child younger than 26 years old) in 2015 or face big fines now have more time.

This is the second delay.

Last year, the U.S. Treasury Department delayed the mandate for all employers until 2015. The latest delay now gives employers with 50 to 99 full-time employees until 2016 to comply with these rules – but with a caveat. The business must certify that they are eligible.

However, even larger firms that don’t qualify for this delay will still get a break. These companies now only need to offer affordable coverage to 70 percent of full-time employees in 2015 to avoid the monetary penalties, and they don’t need to provide dependent coverage as long as they’re moving forward with the steps needed to offer this coverage beginning in 2016. After next year, at least 95 percent of full-time employees need to be offered insurance, according to Kiplinger’s.

Employers also now have some additional reprieve against the stiff monetary penalties imposed under the PPACA for not providing qualified healthcare to full-time employees.

The House of Representatives has voted to ease the health care reform law’s definition of a full-time employee by changing it to employees working at least 40 hours per week, Business Insurance reports. The PPACA legislation, which took effect Jan. 1, 2014, requires employers with at least 100 employees – starting in 2015 – to offer qualified coverage to full-time employees, which has been defined as employees working an average of 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month, or face a penalty of $2,000 per employee. The same requirement applies to employers with between 50 and 99 employees, effective in 2015, the Business Insurance report says.

Changing the classification of a full-time worker from 30 hours per week to 40 hours per week would reduce the number people receiving employer-based coverage by about 1 million, but it would increase the number of uninsured, the Obama Administration said in a statement.

That’s a ‘sweet’ road trip, honey

honey

Los Angeles is considered one of the “10 Most Traffic-Congested Cities,” according to Forbes report, with motorists spending 34 percent more time on the road (including highways, streets and arterial routes) than during the odd times when traffic is flowing freely.

Related: High winds knock over six big rigs

However, late last month, four lanes of traffic were shut down — but not as a result of our nation’s inadequate infrastructure.

This time, it was big rig that was hauling 42,000 pounds of honey that overturned on northbound 605 in Industry, Calif., which is located in Los Angeles County, according to a report in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. No one was trapped or hurt, according to the report.

The honey may have been sweet, but the backup and the cleanup it caused sure weren’t.

Crews were afraid that the sweet substance would get into storm sewers so they worked quickly to clean up the mess.

For aerial footage from KCAL-TV showing the truck and the honey that spilled out, click here.

Foxx talks economy, modernization, innovation during Ohio visit

(Photo Credit: U.S. DOT)

(Photo Credit: U.S. DOT)

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx visited three cities in Ohio on Monday for the first stop on his “Invest in America, Commit to the Future” bus tour.

Foxx will visit various cities in the U.S. throughout the five-day tour, which aims to promote infrastructure investment.

His first three stops were in Pickaway County, Dayton and Norwood, Ohio.

While in Pickaway County, Foxx visited the Pickaway East West Connector project, which will connect US 23 and the Rickenbacker intermodal Facility.

Foxx notes on the DOT’s Fast Lane blog that the project received $16 million in TIGER grants. He says the project will help boost the economy by creating a way for “hundreds of commercial trucks to bring their goods to market more affordably and efficiently.”

“Already, a quarter-million shipping containers pass through this freight corridor every year. Now, even more will,” Foxx writes. “And that’s a good thing, since we need to find a way to move 14 billion more tons of freight by 2050.”

Foxx’s trip to Dayton took him to the city’s I-75 modernization project. The $168 million project aims to improve safety, decrease congestion and update a portion of the Interstate.

In another Fast Lane blog post, Foxx says he met project workers who “aren’t just repairing this highway, they’re also increasing its capacity, so that tens of thousands more vehicles will be able to travel this road every day.” He notes that the completed project will feature a third lane.

Foxx also points to an area on I-75 that was previously dubbed “Malfunction Junction.” Crews are improving the area with tasks including removing left-hand ramps.

The project received $162 million in federal funding, Foxx notes. He says the DOT is proud to have given the project that money because it has created numerous jobs.

“It’s clear that projects like this one are helping Americans build and live better lives, and why we need a long-term transportation bill to ensure they continue to be funded in the future,” Foxx writes.

For his final stop of the day, Foxx visited Siemens’ Norwood Motors Manufacturing Facility, where he met workers who build motors and gears for trains.

Foxx wrote in blog post that rail investment creates those manufacturing jobs as well as other jobs.

“When we invest in rail in this country, DOT’s Buy America program ensures that everything we build is built with American parts and by American workers,” Foxx writes. “This is something we’ve always understood in this country – investing in transportation is a tried and true way to create jobs, and to grow business.”

Congress could allocate $44 million in federal transportation funds to Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier

shutterstock_89117647

The Golden Gate Bridge may soon feature a suicide barrier funded in part by federal transportation dollars.

Members of the bridge board last week requested $11 million from the California Legislature for the $66 million project, the Contra Costa Times reports.

The report also notes that lobbyists from the bridge board returned to California from Washington D.C. earlier this month with high hopes that Congress could allocate $44 million in federal transportation funds for the project.

San Francisco board member Janet Reilly told the Contra Costa Times that the project “was ineligible for any federal funds whatsoever” two years ago. However, a transportation bill that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) pushed was passed in 2012 and contained phrasing that allows funds to be used for items such as safety rails and nets on bridges.

The Golden Gate Bridge plan includes a stainless steel cable net that extends that extends 20 feet below and 20 feet from the side of the bridge and would collapse slightly if someone jumped in it. It would also include a “snooper” truck that has an elongated arm to help people get out of the net. The net, which is expected to deter people from jumping, would take three years to build.

VIDEO: Watch these crews slide a half-mile, 30 million-pound bridge into place over the Ohio River

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 11.55.08 AM

Construction crews have completed a record-breaking bridge slide over the Ohio River.

Related: VIDEO: Portland engineers use dish soap to move century-old bridge

At nearly a half-mile in length and weighing in at more than 30 million pounds, the Milton-Madison bridge is a new steel truss bridge that replaces a span originally built in 1929.

It is now the largest bridge in North America (perhaps the world) to be slid laterally into place.

Walsh Construction, the company building the new $131 million bridge, slid the bridge 55 feet laterally from temporary piers into place over April 9 and 10 last week. The task likely could have been completed on April 9 but high winds on the river caused a halt in work.

The workers completed the task by placing polished steel plates on top of the permanent piers to create a slippery surface. They then pulled the bridge from the temporary piers using steel cables and eight computer-controlled hydraulic jacks.

Related: VIDEO: Crews move I-5 permanent replacement span into place

In total, workers slid the bridge for 12 1/2 hours.

The bridge spans the Ohio River and connects the towns of Madison, Indiana and Milton, Kentucky. At 40 feet wide, the new bridge is twice as wide as the old bridge and has two 12-foot lanes and 8-foot shoulders.

The remaining work on the bridge includes inspections and road connections. That work should be completed in about a week before the new bridge is opened to traffic.

To see the workers slide the bridge into place, watch the video below.



Editor’s note: Wayne Grayson is online editor for sister site Equipment World.

U.S. DOT predicts August shortfall in latest Highway Trust Fund Ticker update

HTF-Cash-Flow-Summary-Through-3-28-14

In its latest update of the Highway Trust Fund Ticker, the U.S. Department of Transportation predicts the HTF to shortfall as early as the end of August.

The agency previously predicted a shortfall in late July.

Related: 5 Options for Avoiding Highway Trust Fund Insolvency

The HTF provides funding to the majority of projects in the U.S., and the DOT could slow reimbursements to state and local agencies to prevent the shortfall. Additionally, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently said that if the HTF, along with other problems with the nation’s transportation system, isn’t fixed, it could cost 700,000 jobs.

In the ticker update, the DOT notes that the Highway Account started fiscal year 2014 with about $1.6 billion, and $9.7 billion was transferred from the General Fund.

Since then, the account’s cash balance has dropped by nearly $3.5 billion to $8.4 billion.

For more details, see the DOT’s Highway Trust Fund Ticker here.

 

Caterpillar adds new resources for state, local agencies to GovBidSpec.com

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 4.51.10 PM.Caterpillar has announced that it has added new tools and resources to GovBidSpec.com with a goal of aiding state and local governmental buyers make equipment purchasing decisions.

The company added RFP Builder to the site, allowing users to quickly create RFPs for vendors. Agencies can select exactly what they want to include in their request for proposal, including questions about product features, pricing, financing options and more. Then, based on the selected questions, users can generate a Word document that can be further edited and customized.

Also new to the site is the Resource Center, a library of guides, tips and other materials. Topics include total cost procurement, cooperative purchasing, safety and financing alternatives for governmental entities.

Additionally, the company added a “Why Caterpillar?” section that includes links to information about Cat support, safety and training resources, financing options and more.

For more details, visit GovBidSpec.com.

Science behind how tires make sound could improve fuel economy

moving tire

.Yokohama has announced that through work with the Japanese equivalent of NASA, the company for the first time has an understanding of how tires make sound.

The company sent a team of researchers to work with those at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science to create a 3D simulation of how a tire makes sound while traveling on a road.

This 3D simulation shows the airflow field around the tire and the resulting sounds it creates as it travels over the road.

This 3D simulation shows the airflow field around the tire and the resulting sounds it creates as it travels over the road.

And for the first time they were able to do it. The model, shown in the colorful second picture in this blog, displays both the airflow field around the tire and the resulting sounds it creates as it travels over the road.

In the process, the researchers learned that the noise tires create is caused not only by the air turbulence around a tire but also by the air constantly being compressed by the tire as it moves forward and makes contact with the road. That compressed air is also circulated around the tire creating more noise.

By better understanding this connection between airflow and tire noise, Yokohama says the findings will help them make quieter tires and more aerodynamic ones that could increase a vehicle’s fuel economy.

Editor’s note: Wayne Grayson is online editor for sister site Equipment World.

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