Several months ago, I shared that many ATB members were donating time and material to a new City project, Sister Jose Women’s Center. Last week was the grand opening of the facility of 9,000 square feet off Park and 22nd Street. Members like Miura Contracting, Cemex, Cal Portland, and Granite Construction donated to the project that will serve homeless women in Tucson.
House Highways & Transit Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and Ranking Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia) are distributing a letter to their colleagues in Congress. They are asking all House members to join them in urging the inclusion of a long-term Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenue solution as part of any tax reform proposal. The text of the new Graves-Norton HTF letter can be seen here as well as a separate “Dear Colleague” letter with information on how Arizona State House members can sign on. Many of you may remember the House delegation to sign a similar letter led by Representatives Graves and Norton in 2016. Thanks to many, 130 House members (56 Republicans and 74 Democrats) signed that 2016 letter. The difference is this year Congress appears more likely to move a tax reform bill. Obviously, ATB wants an even better showing in this year’s letter than last. To achieve that goal, our first step is ensuring all returning House members who signed last year’s letter get on board as soon as possible with this year’s version. A quick round of signatures will make it easier to get other members to sign on. You can review the list of 2016 Graves-Norton letter signers here. Ultimately, ATB urged our Congress members of the House delegation to sign the letter as soon as possible. We understand President Trump is openly considering combining his promised infrastructure package with tax reform legislation. The Graves-Norton letter is well timed given the prioritization of tax reform and President Trump. In line with precedents over the past 30 years, all HTF revenue enhancements have come as part of broader tax or budget measures. This letter also provides an opportunity to demonstrate that support for solving the long-standing HTF solvency.
See second video here.
Executive Director Ramon Gaanderse met with Associated General Contractors of Arizona President David Martin this past week. David was town and both had a nice discussion about various legislation topics from transportation funding to the State and much more. Ramon also met with Connie Peretz, Executive Director, Arizona Utility Contractors Association. Ramon and Connie discussed more ways to offer training to its members and workforce development topics. Thanks to all our partners for their continued support of ATB and its members and our ongoing partnership.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. I know…we all know what causes distractions and we see distracted drivers every day. It amazes me the things that people do behind the wheel! Yikes! With that being said, I did not expect to read something today that would change my behavior when I am driving, but I did. Like millions of Americans, I talk on the phone while I am driving. (No, I never text…that is just plain craziness as far as I’m concerned!!) I have a hands-free connection in my car and I would say that at least half of the time I am alone in the car I am talking to someone on the phone. Does this sound like you? I do not expect to change your mind in this little article, but I do hope to intrigue you enough that you’ll read the research yourself. This information comes from the National Safety Council’s White Paper, Understanding the Distracted Brain, which includes references from more than 30 research studies. Here are a few of the things I found most interesting: Talking on a hands-free cell phone is not necessarily safer than a handheld. Hands-free technology allows you to drive with both hands on the wheel, but it is the actual carrying on a conversation that diverts your attention while driving. Our brain cannot multitask. It can process information quickly giving us the feeling that we are doing two tasks at the same time, but in reality our brain is switching attention between tasks. Driving and carrying on a conversation are both cognitively complex tasks which compete for our brain’s information processing resources. We believe that we’re aware of our surroundings, but our brain decides what information to process and what information to filter out. As a result, we don’t realize when we’ve given our brains too much to process at one time. Studies have found that drivers using hands-free phones had the perception that they were safe drivers, but in reality they showed decreased performance. The risk of being involved in an accident while using a cell phone while driving is about 4 times greater than when not using the phone. If you are like my office-mates, you may be wondering if there’s a difference between talking on the phone while driving and having a conversation with a passenger in the car with you. Actually, there is. Studies have shown that “a passenger tends to slow down the conversation if traffic seems hectic or challenging, as well as talks about the traffic conditions, keeping the driver’s mind on the road.” (Rowe & Hamilton 5/26/16) I for one now realize that I may not be as good at multitasking as I thought I was. That’s not to say that you’ll never see me carrying on a conversation while I’m driving, but I promise to do better. How about you?
In separate April 4 remarks to builders and other business CEOs, President Donald Trump vowed to continue cutting regulations while pressing forward with “a very major infrastructure bill of $1 trillion—perhaps even more.” Trump told the North America’s Building Trades Unions National Legislative Conference that the expedited environmental reviews he has ordered since taking office in January will speed infrastructure, environmental and energy projects across the country. “With your help, we can rebuild our country’s bridges, airports, seaports, and water systems,” he said. In remarks to a White House-organized town hall meeting for CEOs, Trump called to the stage DJ Gribbin, the 2011 Amercian Roads & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) P3 division president and a long-time member of the association’s Board of Directors, now working as the president’s special assistant for infrastructure policy. Gribbin held up a chart of regulations taller than himself as Trump explained how building a highway can take up to 20 years and require the approval of more than a dozen agencies. Trump also characterized the Obama administration’s 2009-stimulus program as being used on social programs. “I mean, to this day, I haven’t heard of anything that’s been built,” he said. The money was handed to the states, which many substituted the funds for their own planned spending on roads and bridges, diluting the potential additive impacts. Trump said he will be sure money in his infrastructure plan “has to be spent on shovels, not on other programs. … if you have a job that you can’t start within 90 days, we’re not going to give you the money for it.” Trump began touting $1 trillion of infrastructure investment during last year’s presidential campaign. The timetable for rolling out a detailed proposal has ranged from as soon as this spring to later in the fall. But his desire to build, coupled with congressional calls for major tax reform, offer an important opportunity for a permanent revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund. ATB will continue to push the White House and Capitol Hill for an infrastructure package and Highway Trust Fund fix. ATB members can help by attending the May 16-18 Federal Issues Program and Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In, hosted by the ARTBA and speaking with their elected representatives. Thank you ARTBA for sharing this article with our Association. See the video here.
Last week California Lawmakers passed to increase its State’s transportation infrastructure by $52 billion over ten years. This increases the fuel, diesel, registration fees for all vehicles including electric vehicles. Roads and infrastructure have been neglected for decades in the State. This also includes a “lock box” which money cannot be transferred to pay for other budget items. See CBS California news station for the full story. See video here.
Thanks to Jenn Escarcega of Miura Contracting for inviting Executive Director Ramon Gaanderse on a jobsite tour last week Thursday. The first project was Ajo/I-19 T.I., which Muira is a subcontractor performing the construction of a 2,300 linear feet (almost a ½ mile long), 55,000 sq. ft/surface, Concrete Channel Lining via a combination of tailgate and pumped concrete utilizing power screeds. A total of 2,300 cubic yards will be placed when complete. The second is Colossal Cave Road Improvements, which Miura is also subcontracted to help build drainage structures so that the roads will not flood residential area in Vail. They also are a part of the Concrete Monolith Kiosk that will hold a plaque and murals of the history of the town and the railroad. Miura Contracting is helping build an exposed concrete base along with some concrete benches near a 10 ft. steel “V” that Cienega High School Construction Tech School students fabricated (to welcome Vail residents into town). The Vail Preservation Society was a huge part in generating the funding and coordinating with Pima County, volunteers, businesses, and high school students in creating these new monuments in Vail.