AAA, ATA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce urge Congress to pass permanent fix for the Highway Trust Fund

writing a letterWith the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) inching ever so closer to insolvency, organizations are redoubling efforts to ensure Congress is passes a permanent fix, rather than a patch.

AAA, the American Trucking Associations, and the U.S Chamber of Commerce submitted a joint letter to Congress Jan. 26 urging members of the 114th Congress to raise the federal fuels user fee, which funds the HTF. The fee was last increased in 1993 under the Clinton administration. Without another patch, the HTF will no longer be funded beyond May of this year.

A bipartisan bill is in the works that would supply monies from a tax on overseas profits of U.S. companies. However, this may only be a short-term fix, as it’s being reported that the tax would only supply funds for two years.

“There are many challenges that Congress must address this year,” the groups stated in the letter, “ but we believe that finding a solution for funding the Highway Trust Fund is at the top of the list. Rather than continuing to resort to short-term funding patches that only delay tough decisions, our organizations support action to address the issue pragmatically, immediately, and sustainably.”

“While the impact of insufficient funding is evident,” the groups statement continued, “how we got here is not always clear.” To clarify this situation, the groups created an animated and interactive infographic to illustrate the impact of the HTF on the U.S. transportation system and how the federal fuels user fee is used.

The infographic describes in plain language exactly how the HTF benefits not only roadways, but the economic benefits of a sound transportation system. It includes details on the history of the fund, links to state infrastructure and roadwork project reports on The Road Information Program’s (TRIP) web site, and timelines on the funding patches and borrowing that has kept the HTF trudging along.

“While no one wants to pay more,” the groups added, “we urge you to support an increase to the federal fuels user fee, provided the funds are used to ease congestion and improve safety, because it is the most cost efficient and straightforward way to provide a steady revenue stream to the Highway Trust Fund.”

Article written by Chris Hill, Senior Editor of Equipment World.

Boehner discusses Highway Trust Fund on 60 Minutes

John Boehner.

John Boehner.

During a 60 Minutes interview, House Speaker John Boehner urged the importance of finding a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund, which is currently scheduled to run out of money in May.

“The biggest problem we have is that the Highway Trust Fund, which is funded by gasoline taxes, continues to shrink as cars get more and better mileage standards, Boehner told CBS anchor Scott Pelley. “So, the money that’s in the Highway Trust Fund isn’t sufficient to meet the infrastructure needs of the country.”

“When the Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the White House, they couldn’t increase the gas tax,” he said. So what’s left? “We believe that through tax reform [and] a couple of other options that are being looked at, we can find the funds to fund a long-term highway bill. It’s critically important to the country.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has recently supported raising the country’s gasoline tax. “Gas prices are so low — oil prices are so low — (now) is the time to do it,” she said.

Excavator operator survives nasty rollover off of bridge

Fire officials snapped this shot of the rolled over excavator. Credit: Meriden Fire Dept. via @MeridenFire on Twitter

Fire officials snapped this shot of the rolled over excavator. Credit: Meriden Fire Dept. via @MeridenFire on Twitter

 

An excavator operator escaped a serious machine rollover while working alongside a bridge in Connecticut recently.

According to a report from the Record-Journal, Tom Bryda, was operating the excavator January 14 when it rolled over and slid down an embankment, settling below the Columbs Avenue bridge in Meriden.

A report from the Meriden Fire Department said Bryda suffered a head laceration and an injury to his left hand. He could not recall what caused the rollover. Two cranes were brought into the site to pull the excavator back up the embankment.

Bryda was working for Terryville-based Schultz Corp., a subcontractor for Wendell, McDonnel & Costello Inc., on a $1.1 million project to excavate the area around the bridge in order to widen the Harbor Brook channel that passes beneath it and add culverts.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun an investigation of the incident.

Operators and crews find discuss and prepare for tip over/rollver incidents using our collection of safety lessons for these types of accidents at our Safety Watch hub.

Article written by Wayne Grayson, Online Managing Editor of Equipment World.

Ohio worker’s death creates urgency on inspecting NJ bridges

Photo from the scene of the accident. | Credit: Jackie Congedo, Twitter.

Photo from the scene of the Ohio accident. | Credit: Jackie Congedo, Twitter.

Aging infrastructure issues are well-known topics across the political landscape, as President Obama alluded to in his recent State of the Union address. Unfortunately, it takes a tragic incident such as the death of an Ohio construction worker in an overpass collapse to really grab the attention of officials.

As a direct result of the Ohio incident, the New Jersey Department of Transportation is in the process of inspecting nearly 300 of what it calls “structurally deficient” bridges throughout the state. By the middle of the last week in January, the NJDOT plans to have inspected 40 such bridges. These inspections already prompted several lanes of a major route over the Hackensack River to be closed just before rush hour on January 21, according to the New Jersey Record.

In its recent report titled “New Jersey Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” The Road Information Program (TRIP) reveals that 10 percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and have “significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports, or other major components.” An additional 26 percent of the bridges don’t meet modern designs standards, which includes alignment, clearance, and lane-width issues.

According to TRIP’s report, the conditions of all New Jersey’s bridges and roadways cost the motorists of that state $11.8 billion each year in traffic crashes, congestion delays and operating costs. That comes to roughly $2,000 per driver.

“These conditions are only going to get worse if greater funding is not made available at the local, state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director, in a statement regarding the report.

He alludes to the ongoing saga of funding the Highway Trust Fund, for which Congress passed a patch in August 2014 funding it only until May 31.

New Jersey for example, received $1.20 in road improvements from the federal surface transportation program for $1 it paid into federal motor fuel fees between 2008 and 2012, so the program is a significant funding source.

“Congress can help by approving a long-term federal surface transportation program that provides adequate funding levels, based on a reliable funding source,” Wilkins added. “If not, New Jersey is going to see its future federal funding threatened, resulting in fewer road and bridge repair projects, loss of jobs, and a burden on the state’s economy.”

Article written by Chris Hill, Senior Editor of Equipment World. 

John Keating named NAPA Man of the Year

John Keating.

John Keating.

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) has named John J. Keating, President and Chief Operating Officer, East, for Oldcastle Materials, as its Man of the Year. The award was handed out during a surprise ceremony at the association’s 60th Annual Meeting in Marco Island, Florida.

The Man of the Year honor, which was last presented in 2009, recognizes outstanding contributions by industry leaders for the betterment of the entire asphalt industry. Keating was honored for his leadership in developing the asphalt industry’s marketing and communications platform and strengthening and unifying the partnership between the Asphalt Institute, the State Asphalt Pavement Associations, and NAPA.

“John possesses a clarity of purpose that has guided the industry’s market share efforts from inception to today. He clearly saw that the asphalt industry needed to stand up and talk about its product, using sound science and the trusted relationships held with road owners to share why asphalt pavements have always been and should always remain the pavement of choice when building new or reconstructing old pavements — they are smoother, safer, quieter, and quicker and easier to construct,” said Ron White, the 2007 Chairman of NAPA, who presented the award. White leads the Pavement Economics Committee, which directs NAPA–SAPA-funded research efforts.

Keating currently heads the industry’s Marketing Council, which brings together leadership from AI, NAPA, and the SAPAs to oversee research, marketing, and deployment activities for the asphalt pavement industry. These activities are grounded in pavement science and engineering and are backed by extensive market research into the needs of road owners and drivers.

NAPA names 2015 Chairman

Michael M. Cote.

Michael M. Cote.

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) has named Michael M. Cote as its 2015 Chairman at a ceremony during the association’s 60th Annual Meeting on Monday. As chairman, Cote will be responsible for guiding NAPA’s efforts to support and advance the asphalt pavement industry.

Cote is executive vice president and chief development officer for The LANE Construction Corp., based in Cheshire, Connecticut. The company specializes in heavy civil construction services and products for the transportation, infrastructure and energy industries with some 60 asphalt plants and 12 quarries across the eastern United States.

Cote takes over as NAPA Chairman at a time when a series of industry-backed research projects are being completed. These efforts will help quantify the high-performance attributes of asphalt pavements, and will be supported by industry marketing and deployment efforts to deliver information about pavement innovations to departments of transportation, public works agencies, and other road owners.

“It is an exciting time for the asphalt pavement industry. We face many challenges — from uncertainty in Washington about how to fund needed investment in our national infrastructure to a strong competitive threat from alternative paving materials — but I am certain we are well aligned to ensure drivers continue to enjoy smooth, safe, easy-to-maintain asphalt pavements for the foreseeable future,” Cote said in a statement.

Cote has been an active member of NAPA since The LANE Construction Corp. joined the association over a decade ago. He has served on multiple committees and task forces focused on industry innovations and best practices, including the Warm-Mix Asphalt Task Force, which helped bring energy-saving WMA technology to the U.S. Most recently, he was a leader of an industry scan tour of Japan that sought to understand how Japanese roadbuilders are making quality pavements from mixes that incorporate very high levels of reclaimed asphalt pavement.

“Being the leader for the industry and putting innovation into practice is something NAPA has always done, and will continue to do,” says Cote. “I am proud to be a part of that, as are all NAPA members.”

No charges filed after woman kills construction worker

Area of Cahaba River Road in Birmingham where the accident happened. | Photo: ABC3340

Area of Cahaba River Road in Birmingham where the accident happened. | Photo: ABC3340

 

No charges will be filed against a 23-year-old female who is accused of hitting and killing a construction worker on Cahaba River Road in Birmingham, Alabama, according to ABC3340.

The construction worker, Chance Richard Rollan, 20, was just doing his job directing traffic for a road-widening project when he was hit by a car driven by the unnamed female. According to the police report, the driver took her eyes off the road while reaching down to pick something up in her car which caused her to swerve and hit Rollan.

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“T.E. Stevens Construction is saddened about the accident that occurred on Cahaba River Road yesterday, which resulted in the death of one of our employees,” T.E. Stevens Construction said in a statement to ABC3340. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time. We are fully cooperating and working with local authorities during their investigation.”

No further information was given by local authorities.

Fingers crossed: Senate highway bill could be unveiled soon

highway-roadSenators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) may soon unveil a highway funding bill that would direct money to the struggling Highway Trust Fund from taxes on companies’ overseas earnings, according to Politico’s Morning Transportation report from Jan. 22.

Paul, however, did not mention any specifics in his announcement about a potential bill of what may be included.

Paul did say the bill could face an uphill battle for support among members of his own party, who he says only support repatriation as part of bigger tax reform legislation.

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Congress passed a stopgap measure last summer to fund U.S. highways through May. Lawmakers must pass another bill by its expiration to keep the Highway Trust Fund afloat.

Article written by James Jaillet, editor for Overdrive Online and CCJ Digital.

ARTBA announces new assignments for key senior staff

artba-logoThe American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) has announced new assignments for some of its key staff. Read the changes below:

Allison Klein, who has been with ARTBA since 2008, has been named managing director of the Planning & Design Division. She will be the primary contact for the division’s membership and will lead its activities, meetings, and programs. Meanwhile she will continue to serve as vice president of member services, where she coordinates staff activities in the development and execution of programs, products and events that provide added-value to the association’s 6,500 members.

Klein also serves as executive director of the Bridge Policy & Promotion Council, and manages the Materials & Services Division, Women Leaders Council and the Transportation Law Committee. In addition, she directs the activities of the Northeastern and Southern Regional Leadership Teams, with special focus on membership engagement and development.

Michael Sakata, a 13-year ARTBA veteran, has been named the new managing director of the Transportation Officials Division. He now acts as the main liaison in providing programs and services to help meet the needs of public agency officials at the federal, state and local levels.

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He is also the executive director of ARTBA’s Washington, D.C. chapter—the Metropolitan Washington Road & Transportation Builders Association, where he represents the local transportation construction industry before the D.C. government and other agencies. In addition he will continue to serve as ARTBA’s vice president of operations, managing the association’s existing information technology systems and identifying new technology solutions.

Nick Goldstein, who joined the association in 2004, has been tapped to manage the Young Executive Development Program (YEDP). Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the YEDP, which will be held in the Nation’s Capital in April, provides rising leaders within the transportation construction and development sector with a solid understanding of industry economics. Goldstein’s other responsibilities include serving as vice president of regulatory affairs, assistant general counsel, Political Action Committee manager, and director of the Environmental Committee and Ports & Waterways Council.

ARTBA seeks students for 2015-16 Highway Worker Memorial Scholarship Program

artba-logoThe American Road and Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF) is seeking qualified students for its 2015-16 “Lanford Family Highway Worker Memorial Scholarship Program.”

The scholarship, which is in its 15th year in 2015, provides post-high school financial assistance to the children of highway workers who have been killed or permanently disabled while working in roadway construction zones.  More than 120 worthy students from across America have been beneficiaries of the program.

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Eligible students must attend a post-secondary institution of learning that requires a high school diploma or Graduate Equivalent Degree (G.E.D.) for admission. This could include any public or private: (a) four-year accredited college or university; (b) two-year accredited college; or (c) vocational technical college or training institution.  M.B.A. candidates and master’s degree students in civil engineering, construction management and other construction-related programs will also be considered.  Scholarships have a value up to $5,000.

Applications are due by March 6, 2015, and can be found at www.artbatdf.org

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