RoadWorks: Down but not out
Better Roads Staff
Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) says that as a result of its advocacy work, “EPA has decided to not require contractors to respond to a lengthy, mandatory survey that will guide and inform future requirements pertaining to long-term stormwater control practices, recognizing that contractors are not responsible for designing, financing, operating or maintaining post-construction (permanent) stormwater controls.”
EPA initiated a national rulemaking to establish a program to reduce stormwater discharges from new development and redevelopment and make other regulatory improvements to strengthen its stormwater program, says AGC. Last year EPA indicated that it would be asking contractors questions that AGC estimated would have taken a construction firm between 120 to 150 hours to complete.
First, the state law was enacted; then, a grace period allowed for driver education. Now, though, it’s time for slowpoke drivers to either get out of the left lane on U.S. 84 or pay up, warns the Sheriff’s Office in Concordia Parish, Louisiana.
A state law that went into effect in 2009 forbids vehicles in the left lane on multi-lane roads from traveling at a slower pace than traffic in the right lane. Since then, people in his jurisdiction located across the Mississippi River from Natchez, Miss. have been given time to adjust, says Concordia Sheriff Randy Maxwell. From now on, the law will be vigorously enforced, particularly on a portion of U.S. 84 known locally as the Ferriday-Vidalia highway, reports The Natchez Democrat.
“The highways in Concordia Parish – particularly in the early morning and late afternoon – are terribly congested,” says Maxwell. “People who are in that left lane and driving along at approximately 40 miles per hour or thereabouts are causing havoc on the roadways. This can only lead to chaos and tragedy.”
A similar Louisiana law bans “rolling roadblocks” – the act of vehicles traveling at the same speed side by side.
Part of the reauthorization debate in Washington is a sometimes heated discussion about whether the future of our transportation system relies primarily on building new roads or taking better care of our existing roads. In other words do we have enough roads already? If we do, goes one side of the argument, we could function with less money in the Highway Trust Fund (thus solving, or at least taking much of the sting out of, the problem of whether to increase gas taxes, a major relief for our elected representatives in D.C.)
But the states don’t buy into the argument.
As the evidence shows, travel is greatly out-distancing available room on the roads, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), a body which makes the case for increasing the nation’s transportation capacity.
“While congestion levels declined with the recession, congestion is now returning, costing millions in lost time and productivity. Capacity increases are needed in transit, rail, and particularly in highways,” says AASHTO executive director John Horsley
“Even with strategies to reduce traffic and improve transit, highway system expansion is critical,” said AASHTO President Larry “Butch” Brown, director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation. “If most or all of our capital investment were made in system rehabilitation and little to none in adding needed capacity, road conditions would improve, but traffic would grind to a halt.”
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