New ATM ad campaigns urge Congress for HTF solution

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The Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) coalition has launched a regionally focused, multiplatform ad campaign urging Congress to develop a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). The advertisements will appear in 33 congressional districts across 10 media markets throughout the country just as lawmakers return to home before the midterm elections.

“Congress passed legislation in late July that will keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent until May of next year, but America needs—and deserves—better,” said Janet Kavinoky, ATM vice president and executive director of transportation and infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber. “Without a bipartisan, sustainable, and long-term solution, we are jeopardizing the roads, bridges and transit systems that have helped this country grow and prosper. And we are preventing future generations from enjoying the same advancement and mobility.”

Billboards will be placed in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City. There will be other ads placed in various regional publications and on national digital networks. The ads will direct individuals to visit FasterBetterSafer.org to learn more about the country’s transportation and infrastructure needs and take action by submitting letters to Congress.

The ad campaigns can be viewed in the slideshow at the top of this article. Which one do you like best? We’d love to hear your opinion in a comment below!

16 public works professionals selected for APWA Emerging Leaders Academy

apwa logoThe American Public Works Association (APWA) has announced the selection of 16 public works professionals who have been selected for the APWA Emerging Leaders Academy (ELA) Program for 2014-2015. The selected participants will engage in a year-long national Emerging Leaders Academy program that provides intensive leadership and management training within the context of public works.

The ELA program encourages professional growth through a strong network of peers, and offers an in-depth introduction to APWA at the national, chapter and branch levels. Candidates for the program must be professionals who have been working in the field of public works for ten years or less, at either public or private agencies, and have demonstrated an interest in advancing their careers within the profession.

“The APWA Emerging Leaders program provides a year-long experience including a two-day Emerging Leaders retreat held in Kansas City, ongoing interaction via conference calls, program- related assignments, attendance at the APWA International Public Works Congress & Exposition in Phoenix in 2015, and completion of a class project on a key public works topic,” said APWA Executive Director Peter B. King.

This year’s participants are led by experienced Emerging Leaders Academy Coordinators, including: Susan Hann, PE, PWLF, AICP, City Manager, City of Palm Bay, FL; Jeff Brown, PE, Engineering and Infrastructure Director, Cumberland County, Fayetteville, NC; and Becky Stein, MPA, CAE, APWA Staff Liaison in Kansas City, MO.

Those selected for the APWA Emerging Leaders Academy – Class VIII include:

  •  Ryan Crum, PE, Engineer, City and County of Denver, Arvada, CO
  •   Tom Denny, Division Manager, City of Winchester Public Works, Winchester, VA
  •   Kyle Aron Dieckmann, PE, Civil Engineer Senior, City of Overland Park, Overland Park, KS
  •   Eric Gilmore, Senior Engineering Technician, City of Shoreline, Shoreline, WA
  •   Marcus Goodman, Operations Supervisor, City of Olympia, Olympia, WA
  •   Steven M. Hayek, CM II, City of Kenosha, Kenosha, WI
  •   Jeremy J. Hutt, PE, CFM, City Engineer, City of Colleyville, Colleyville, TX
  •   Lora Ingram, Senior Budget Analyst, City of Surprise, Surprise, AZ
  •   Andrew J. Kimmel, PE, Engineer, Riedesel Engineering, Boise, ID
  •   Chase Kuffel, EIT, Civil Engineer II, City of Kenosha, Kenosha, WI
  •   Kevin Limehouse, Customer Service Liaison, Charleston County, North Charleston, SC
  •   Carys Lustig, Supervisor of Administration, Town of Needham, Needham, MA
  •   James C. Newberry, PE, Operations Support Branch Manager, Maricopa County, Phoenix, AZ
  •   Drake Odum, Management Analyst, City of Largo, Largo, FL
  •   Chad Oxton, Operations Superintendent II, City of Suffolk Public Works, Operations, Suffolk, VA
  •   Ryan R. Petersen, Public Works Tech Supervisor, Charleston County, North Charleston, SC

Nearly half of New York roads need work

tripNearly half of New York’s locally maintained roads are in need of rehabilitation, preservation or reconstruction, according to the latest TRIP report. Almost one-third of the state’s locally maintained bridges are deficient and in need of corrective maintenance or rehabilitation. Unfortunately, the report finds that that local governments lack the funds to maintain and/or repair roads.

47 percent of the state’s roads could use work. The TRIP reports rates 15 percent of New York roads in poor condition, which means they should be repaired or replaces as soon as possible. 32 percent of the state’s roads are in need of preservation to correct adverse effects of age and wear. 34 percent of New York’s roads are rated in good condition while only 19 percent are said to be in excellent condition.

TRIP would like to see all states keep at least 75 percent of its roads in good condition.

Roads aren’t the only thing the TRIP report covers. The report also found that 31 percent of New York’s bridges are in need of corrective maintenance. Seven percent of bridges are in serious need of repair or replacement ASAP, and 24 percent are rated as deficient. Of the state’s remaining bridges, 31 percent are in good condition and 38 percent are in excellent condition.

“Having a modern system of roads and bridges in New York State must be a priority,” said Timothy Hens, president of the New York State County Highway Superintendents Association and the Highway Superintendent of Genesee County. “The TRIP report is yet another confirmation that investment in the state’s transportation infrastructure has for years been far short of what is needed. Consequently, we continue to fall further and further behind in our efforts to maintain the system, especially our local roads and bridges.”

To improve roads and bridges, spending would have to triple.The current amount of  spending on New York’s local roads and bridges would need to increase by 64 percent in order to keep locally maintained roads and bridges in their current condition over the next decade. In order to improve the condition of all locally maintained roads, highways and bridges to good condition or better, the current amount of annual spending over the next decade would need to nearly triple.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot states can do to repair its roads and bridges without the proper funding.

“New York’s locally maintained roads will require significant rehabilitation and modernization in order to provide a high quality of life for the state’s residents and an attractive economic climate for businesses and industries,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “The state’s counties and municipalities must have the funding to make the maintenance, repair and upkeep of their transportation system a top priority.”

 

VIDEO: Should more DOTs use a 'zipper merge'?

The Michigan Department of Transportation will be the latest to try out the zipper merge system. MDOT hopes the system will help traffic move through construction areas at a faster pace.

With the current system, the delays caused by traffic jams has become almost unbearable for drivers. The zipper system is supposed to encourage drivers take turns merging, which should get everyone to their destination much quicker.

In Minnesota the zipper system is used and has made a big impact on traffic. MnDOT has released the following video showing off the zipper system and its effectiveness.

In addition to finding ways to keep traffic flowing through construction zones, states also need to make sure signage is clear and up to date.

New work zone training program to be offered in 2015

roadworksignThe Associated General Contractors of America will put $135,000 in grant money to good use in 2015, using the funds to implement safety training classes on highway work zones.

According to both federal safety data and AGC survey results, work zone crashes are responsible for a high number of injuries among construction workers.

From 2003 to 2010, more than 962 workers were killed at road construction sites. In a survey conducted last spring, the AGC found that 45 percent of contractors experienced work zone crashes on their jobsite in the past year, with workers injured in 20 percent of crashes, and killed in 6 percent of crashes.

The grant funds were awarded from the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, which is given to non-profit organizations by the U.S. Department of Labor to provide education for workers and employers on the recognition, avoidance and prevention of safety and health hazards in the workplace.

The AGC’s safety classes will train participants on how to set up highway work zones properly, as well as cover flagger safety and heavy equipment management.

Scheduled for eight locations beginning in January, AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr, says the training is expected to protect thousands of workers via incorporating best practices that will be used repeatedly. “The best defense from crashes is teaching crews how to set up and operate safer work zones,” he says.

This article was written by Amy Materson, Managing Editor for Equipment World.

Are flying robots the future of road construction?

drone_9Centuries ago some people thought the world would be taken over by robots and flying cars by now. They may not have been 100 percent correct, but they weren’t completely wrong either. When it comes to highway and bridge construction, flying robots may start playing huge roles.

Javier Irizarry, associate professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Building and Construction, and director of CONECTech construction technology lab, received a $75,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) last year to study the potential uses of drones, or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)  in highway construction.

Unfortunately, Irizarry’s work did not come without criticism. The term “drone” seems to freak some people out. The term carries negative connotations — many of them militaristic. The term is also frequently used incorrectly.

Georgia Tech associate professor and director of the CONECTech construction technology lab Javier Irizarry.

Georgia Tech associate professor and director of the CONECTech construction technology lab Javier Irizarry.

 

“It’s unmanned, not completely autonomous” Irizarry says. He explains that the term drone, technically, only applies to aircraft that fly independently of human control. “What we have been looking at for our research here is the UAV. Not the autonomous vehicles.”

Whether you want to call the little flying robots drones or UAVs, it didn’t affect Irizarry’s research. Irizarry and his students spent about a year exploring ways the UAVs could make everyday DOT tasks more efficient.

To create a running list of tasks to try out with UAVs, the research team interviewed about 20 people at various levels within the GDOT. Of the tasks mentioned by GDOT employees, many had to do with ways to more easily monitor and manage traffic such as using UAVs to assist in traffic light programming, getting fast and more comprehensive views of wrecks and even monitoring how well airports accommodate landing aircraft.

Two of the tasks Irizarry and his students grappled with involved road construction. One involved using UAVs to visually verify steps in road work such as counting the number of stripes painted along a newly paved road or counting the number of guard rails installed. The other involved making bridge inspections easier and more thorough.

“There’s a job the DOT has to do that requires inspectors to visually inspect the underside of bridges. They can do that from underneath from the supports but that only allows you to see only so much, particularly if the bridge is long and over water,” Irizarry says. He explains that by flying UAVs beneath the bridge, inspectors can get a detailed view of the bridge components in far less time.

Picture taken by a drone in Salvador.

Picture taken by a drone in Salvador.

Irizarry will be publishing much of his lab’s findings from the DOT study in the next year. And though that study has ended, he and his students are still running experiments and exploring use cases of UAVs on construction jobsites, focusing mainly on safety management applications.

UAV technology will only get better with time. Irizarry says he expects things to only get better in the next five or 10 years. However, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) must first change its regulations on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Right now the FAA prohibits the use of all unmanned aircraft for commercial use without the agency’s express approval. But those guidelines were originally designed for model aircraft and the definition of “commercial use” isn’t always cut and dry.

With the exception of a few experimental and academic research approvals granted by the agency, the result has been several UAV pilots receiving cease-and-desist letters and, in some cases, lawsuits from the FAA, though at least one of those incidents have been struck down by federal judges. Even drone schools, degree programs where students learn to pilot the aircraft, aren’t allowed to fly drones at all, forcing instructors to teach using simulators.

The FAA has said that it plans to allow commercial UAS use once it has drawn up proper regulations for the aircraft. The deadline for those regulations is some time in 2015.

“Once the FAA finalizes its regulations, a gun’s going to go off and everybody’s going to race. There are already academic programs that we’ve seen. (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University) already has a drone degree,” Irizarry explains. “I’m sure that you know how surveyors used to use a simple measuring line. Now they use total stations and GPS rovers. You can imagine a specialty trade would adopt something like this to maybe do surveys with UAVs. Some will add the technology to professions that already exist but new professions or trades could arise that use just the UAV.”

Editor’s note: This article was written with research done by Wayne Grayson, Online Managing Editor of Equipment World.

PCA forecast: Cement consumption to see growth through 2016

PCA summer forecast 2014According to the latest forecast from the Portland Cement Association (PCA), cement consumption in the U.S. will see steady gains over the next three years.

As far back as the World of Concrete show in January and again in the Spring, PCA chief economist Ed Sullivan has forecasted 8-percent growth in cement consumption and that forecast holds steady as autumn takes hold. The latest PCA forecast expects 7.9 percent growth in 2014, to a consumption of 86.1 million tons.

In 2015 consumption is forecast to increase 8.4 percent to 93.3 million tons and in 2016 10.7 percent to 103.2 million tons.

In a prepared statement, Sullivan said cement consumption is up 8.4 percent through July of this year and that the pace of consumption has strengthened as the year has progressed due to economic growth driven by gains in the labor market, low consumer debt and increased consumer wealth.

Sullivan expects residential and nonresidential construction to strengthen over the next three years alongside government construction projects.

“While there is concern that the economic growth dynamics have changed as a result of the recession, there are also ample reasons to suggest the economy has weathered the healing process and is just now beginning to transition to a stronger growth plateau,” Sullivan said. “Keep in mind that the recession  generated  tremendous pent-up demand, which will add strength to economic growth rates going forward.”

This article was written by Wayne Grayson, Online Managing Editor for Equipment World.

80-thousand pounds of sand and gravel dumped on highway

Image source: Radio NB

Image source: Radio NB

 

A little bit of sand and gravel usually doesn’t cause any problems for drivers, but 80-thousand pounds of sand and gravel can cause a ton of problems!

Transportation officials were forced to stop traffic on southbound I-35, north of New Braunfels, TX when a dump truck accidentally dropped huge load of sand on the main lanes of the highway. Exactly how much sand was lost on the highway is not exactly know, but it’s estimated to be around 80-thousand pounds.

Police and fire department crews kept the highway closed while they worked tirelessly to push the sand and gravel off of the road. After a few hours the sand had been cleared and the highway was reopened.

Thankfully no accidents occurred from the incident.

Man dies after pedestrian bridge collapses

Photo credit: Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News

Photo credit: Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News

 

One man is dead after a pedestrian bridge in Detroit collapsed onto Southfield Freeway. The collapse happened after the bridge was struck by an oversized truck. Investigators say there were no structural issues with the bridge.

Nobody was on the bridge or under the bridge at the time of the accident. However the driver of the truck, who’s described as an African-American male in his late 40s, was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Due to heavy traffic in the area, it took emergency crews around 35 minutes to arrive.

“We received a call that some type of waste hauler had hit the pedestrian overpass with its boom up,” Michigan Department of Transportation spokeswoman Diane Cross said. “It struck the overpass and knocked out the entire structure. No one was on the overpass or driving beneath it at the time.”

The twisted form of the pedestrian overpass was stretched across both directions of the Southfield freeway. It was scheduled to be removed as soon as the investigation was complete.

Two construction workers injured in big-rig accident

China_steel_rebar200911112220157Two construction workers were injured in an accident involving a big-rig U.S. Highway 101 in Petaluma, California. The big-rig struck a bundle of steel rods that hit them while they were working on the Petaluma River Bridge construction project.

The construction crew was off-loading steel rebar rods on a crane. The far left lane of the highway was closed but the second lane was open. The big-rig struck the bundle of rebar when it swayed into the second lane, Rebar fell onto both lanes of the highway and into the center divide, striking the two men.

Vincent Solano, 28, suffered major injuries when he was struck by the flying rods. He suffered a broken femur and head lacerations. Wayne Reed, 47, of Elk Grove, also was injured and taken to the same hospital as Solano.

The 42-year-old male who was driving the big-rig was not injured in the accident. However, his vehicle was damaged from the collision.

Accidents happen every day which put road workers at risk. Click here for some simple steps to help avoid work zone injuries and deaths.

 

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