Deficient roads cost Alabama drivers $3.1 billion statewide

ExpectDelaysDeficient, congested and unsafe roadways cost Alabama drivers as much as $1,562 annually, and a total of $3.1 billion statewide, according to a new TRIP report. Roads and bridges in need of improvement are causing higher vehicle operating costs, more traffic crashes and congestion-related delays.

The Trip report points out that 15 percent of Alabama’s major urban roads and highways are in poor condition. Nearly a quarter of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

Alabama drivers on major urban roads are seeing more and more traffic delays, forcing them to spend more money on fuel.

If that doesn’t alarm you, this certainly will: the state’s rural non-interstate traffic fatality rate is nearly double the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

A breakdown of the annual cost per motorist in Alabama’s largest urban areas can be found below:

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 10.04.36 AM

A total of 23 percent of the state’s bridges are reportedly showing signs of significant deterioration and nine percent are found to be structurally deficient. An additional 14 percent of Alabama’s bridges are functionally obsolete.

The most concerning statistics from the report are the fatality rates. Traffic crashes in the state has claimed the lives of 4,435 people between 2008 and 2012. Alabama’s traffic fatality rate of 1.33 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled is significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.

Like all states, Alabama can’t do a whole lot to improve its roads and bridges until Congress finds a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund.

“These conditions are only going to get worse if greater funding is not made available at the state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Congress can help by approving a long-term federal surface transportation program that provides adequate funding levels, based on a reliable funding source. If not, Alabama is going to see its future federal funding threatened, resulting in in fewer road and bridge repair projects, loss of jobs and a burden on the state’s economy.”

DOT owes Palm Beach over $300K

111813-BridgeUpdateIn 2010 the Florida Department of Transportation paid Palm Beach $1.046 million when it took all but 1,598 square feet of a 14,744-square-foot parcel at the southeast corner of the Flagler Memorial Bridge to make room for a replacement bridge.

The town would go on to sue the DOT, saying that amount wasn’t enough. After mediation between the two sides, a settlement worth nearly $1.4 million was approved. That gives the town an additional $353,100.

Bill Diamond, who represented the town in mediation, called it a “great settlement.”

“I guess it worked out well, and I’m happy to do it for the town. It was a great victory for the town. I’m pleased that once in a while something does go right.” Diamond said with a laugh.

A little over $300k might not seem like a lot for the DOT, but it will be pinching pennies until a long-term Highway Trust fund bill is passed.

 

Hyundai partners with Werk-Brau

header-logoHyundai Construction Equipment Americas (HCEA) has announced a partnership with Werk-Brau, an attachment manufacturer based in Ohio. The partnership should allow Hyundai to provide a wider array of attachment options to its customers.

Werk-Brau offers a complete line of original equipment manufacturer and replacement attachments for construction equipment including heavy duty excavator and miniexcavator buckets, ditch cleaning and draining buckets, hydraulic and mechanical quick couplers and hydraulic and manual thumbs.

Customers will now have the ability to purchase Hyundai equipment with Werk-Brau attachments through HCEA’s dealer network. Werk-Brau will be responsible for the timing and delivery of all products directly to the customer’s locations.

Hyundai always works to bring its customers top notch equipment. Recently the company expanded its 9A series with three wheeled excavators, and we’re still awaiting the release of the H930C backhoe loader.

 

Firearms to be used for road construction

la-me-ln-guns-melted-20130730-001Thousands of handguns, rifles and other weapons have been destroyed to eventually be used in construction of roads and bridges. The weapons were melted and converted into steel rebar as part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s 21st annual Gun Melt event.

Over 178,000 weapons have been destroyed as part of the event since its inception.

“All kinds of weapons, guns that have been altered, converted Mac-10s, we have knives, rifles, pistols, revolvers,” Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Nicole Nishida said.

In addition to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department,  over 12 local law enforcement agencies have also contributed weapons that had previously been confiscated.

Not everyone agrees with the decision to destroy the firearms. Sam Paredes, spokesperson for Gun Owners of California, said officials should sell the confiscated firearms on the legal gun market and use that revenue to promote gun safety in the community.

In addition to promoting gun safety, maybe some of that revenue could go toward the Highway Trust Fund?

Construction worker killed while laying asphalt

John Garner, 52, was killed while construction crews were laying asphalt in Batesville, Arkansas. Authorities say Garner was helping with the construction when a piece of equipment flipped and rolled on top of him.

The accident took place at the intersection of Highland and East Main in Batesville. He was pronounced dead at White River Medical Center.

Deaths to construction workers are becoming an all-too-common occurrence. A similar death happened in New York when a 62-year-old worker died when equipment fell off a pallet and landed on him.

Road workers also face serious danger when working alongside busy roads, whether they’re picking up construction cones, or just tidying up the side of the highway.

Vulcan launches product calculator app

vulcan-materials-logoVulcan Materials has launched its product calculator app for Android phone, tablet and other Android devices. The app can be a useful tool to estimate the construction materials needed for various road projects.

The Vulcan Materials product calculator is free and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store today!

The app estimates needed quantities of different aggregate, asphalt and concrete products when the user enters length, width and thickness, and material properties such as density.  To assist with calculations, menus are also available for selection of typical density values for different aggregate types.

In addition to the new Vulcan app, we encourage you to check out these three safety apps. Remember: you can never be too safe!

How two men avoided travel fees by outsmarting airlines

Photo credit: Reddit

Photo credit: Reddit

I had to laugh when I saw this article about how some folks were able to get around the carry-on baggage fees on the airports.

I understand reasonable charges, but I think charging a person to carry on his or her own bag is ridiculous. If I’m going to pay for a carry-on, someone better be doing it for me.

Anyway, when I read this article and saw the picture of two guys pulling things out of their carry-on bags and wearing them, I chuckled. I could absolutely see my older son (my mad scientist kid) doing this. In fact, when I showed him the photo, he laughed and made me show my younger son.

According to HappyPlace.com, when two men were flying from Singapore to Sydney, Australia, the desk agent told them that their carry-on bags were over the free weight limit and that they would have to pay $130 in fees.

They came up with their own solution to avoid paying the fees. (I get that this is supposedly for safety reasons – although I think making money has a bit to do with it – but I am still pretty amused.)

The one guy had on multiple hats, shirts, jackets, underwear over this shorts and jeans (that might have just been for shock effect). The other guy had a couple pairs of shoes tied around his waist (a new belt fad, perhaps)? [For the photo, click here.]

Whether it was to make a statement, get around paying fees or just for fun, I found it entertaining.

I was always told to dress in layers. These young men took it to heart.

I’d love to hear your funny or shocking (keep it clean, of course) travel stories! Send me an e-mail at tinabarbaccia@randallreilly.com.

IDEAL Tri-Bore hole saw cuts through virtually anything

IDEAL_Tri-Bore_zps79e89a3eIDEAL Tri-Bore multi-purpose hole saw claims to cut through virtually any construction material, including cement.

Tri-Bore hole saws are compatible with standard battery-powered tools or fixed stationary machines.

Its diamond-sharpened carbide teeth are larger than traditional hole saws for improved speed, cleaner cutting action, and minimized vibration. The larger size works to reduce stress by acting as an absorber that dispels vibration more readily as the saw moves through the cutting surface.

Ideal Industries | www.idealindustries.com 

 

POLL: Majority of Americans would rather pay tolls than taxes

Toll_booths_in_the_UK73 percent of Americans agree that transportation spending is inefficient and most would rather pay for highway repairs with tolls instead of taxes, according to a Reason-Rupe poll.

Out of the 1,000 people surveyed, 58 percent say they would rather pay for transportation projects with tolls. Only 32 percent would prefer to pay for the projects by raising the fuel tax.

Only 21 percent think the government spends transportation money efficiently. The poll also found 46 percent of Americans think the federal government needs to spend more money on transportation infrastructure, 30 percent think the government needs to spend about the same amount as now, and 21 percent believe the federal government should spend less.

A whopping 85 percent are completely against raising the federal gas tax and 72 percent oppose eliminating the gas tax and replacing it with a fee based on mileage driven.

55 percent agreed that highway and street repairs should be top priority when it comes to transportation funding. 38 percent think transit should be top priority while 5 percent said bicycle and walking trails.

It is clear that Americans are still split on several transportation issues. Hopefully Congress will set aside some differences and finally agree on a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund before May 2015.

McCarthy wins major highway construction project

1McCarthy Building has won its major highway construction contract in central Texas. The company will be paid $96.3 million to build express toll lanes on State Highway 71 near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

McCarthy, headquartered in St. Louis with offices in Dallas and Houston, is seen as one of the largest contractors in the country, but has not been considered a major player in Texas.

Construction is scheduled to start in September. It includes building one toll lane in each direction between Presidential Boulevard at the entrance to the airport and east to State Highway 130, or 4.5 miles in each direction.

The project also includes the construction of a bridge over State Highway 130, ramp construction at that intersection, reconstruction of the intersection of State Highway 71 and FM 973, and the widening of the road between Presidential Boulevard and State Highway 130 to allow for three non-toll lanes in each direction along with a pedestrian pathway system.

If all goes well construction will be completed by summer 2016.

Texas is always looking for ways to improve its transportation infrastructure, including ways to boost revenue. This is ultimately good news for Texas drivers who end up spending way more than the average driver due to bad roads.

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