By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA
Though Congress is on recess until April 29, momentum continues to build in Washington for an infrastructure bill. ARTBA staff the week of April 15 continued working with administration leaders and Capitol Hill staff on various matters, including meetings on the Highway Trust Fund’s solvency, reauthorization of the FAST Act surface transportation law, and regulatory issues.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has told reporters she will meet with President Donald Trump (R) in the coming weeks to discuss a $1 trillion to $2 trillion package. A legislative deal that size would not only include spending to upgrade the nation’s roads and bridges, but likely other infrastructure such as the electric power grid and internet broadband.
The House is hoping to have an infrastructure package ready for a vote by summer. In the Senate, the Republican chairman and Democratic ranking member of the Environment & Public Works Committee have already said they want a surface transportation reauthorization bill marked up before the Aug. 3 recess.
ARTBA and its allies are pressing lawmakers to pass an infrastructure bill before the 2020 election season heats up. Nearly 250 companies and organizations, including ARTBA, April 11 sent a letter to the leaders of the House Transportation & Infrastructure and Ways & Means Committees urging them to address “the growing national crisis caused by our country’s decaying infrastructure.”
ARTBA will continue its efforts inside D.C. and around the country and encourages its members to do the same. One way is by contacting your members of Congress through ARTBA’s Grassroots Action Center. Another is by attending the May 13-15 Federal Issues Program and Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In.
By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA
The Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of U.S. House members, May 28 released a 16-page infrastructure blueprint that calls for “modernizing existing user fees, incentivizing private innovation and investment through public-private partnerships, making smarter investments with limited federal dollars, and increasing accountability to taxpayers.”
The report shows there is still a desire among Capitol Hill lawmakers to move forward an infrastructure proposal despite the May 22 collapse of talks between President Donald Trump and congressional Democratic leaders.
For surface transportation needs, the proposal calls for “sustainable and long-term funding for the Highway Trust Fund by modernizing the current federal gasoline user fee and provide proper indexing tools so that the American people do not face the same funding shortfalls over the next 25 years.” It also suggests considering:
The “Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure” report is a reboot of a similar proposal the Problem Solvers released in January 2018. Both reports also address other infrastructure needs, such as energy, water and wastewater, and broadband and other communications networks.
Thanks to Miura Contracting for inviting ATB Executive Director Ramon Gaanderse and ATB Member Tucson Asphalt to a meeting hosting Mayor Rothschild at Miura Contracting. The meeting consisted of various topics but many of them dealing with how small business in the construction industry can flourish. With the assistance of the Mayor, he suggested a few ways to strategies and to gain some advantages. He also discussed about how we can help others find careers in construction and how it stems from the Southern Arizona Construction Career Days event. Lastly, the Mayor talked about the half-cent sales tax that is coming up this May. Thanks Miura Contracting for the invite!
ATB will be hosting its Materials Subcommittee this week Wednesday, February 1 at 0700 at the ATB office. The topic will be on the proposed Pima County Subdivision changes to use roller compacted concrete. You may have participated in our Regional meeting earlier in January and/or have read the material in the topic from our website. We invite any ATB member to participate in the meeting. Please let Ramon Gaanderse know you will be attending if you have not already done so.
In recent weeks, the Arizona Governor released his proposed budget and has spoken at the State Capital and here in Tucson. The Governor has again proposed $85.6 million dollar in sweeps from the Highway User Revenue Funds to help balance the budget. However, he had been telling many people both at the State Capital and elsewhere that he was not proposing such recommendations. As the Governor was running for his current position, we told many that he vowed to make changes for transportation funding, and yet the industry is still waiting. Since is proposed budget hit the eyes of many State lawmakers, the Governor has received pushback. The battle has even ensued other lawmakers to crate legislation to block such sweeps, a proposed ten-cent gas tax, and much more. The battle will now start to stop these sweeps and find new funding sources to pay for road repair. The AGC of Arizona is leading a large group of associations from around the State to focus on the funding sources and bills to help further either blocking sweeps or ways that can further transportation funding. ATB will keep working with our partners to help.
If you not already heard about a major safety share from Florida last week, we strongly encourage you to watch this video. It was about very poor air quality issues and not following safety protocol. Click here.
The same week we had Pima County present during the Regional Meeting ATB Executive Director Ramon Gaanderse and Vice President Chad Housler (Granite) met with Pima County Transportation Director Priscilla Corneilo. During this meeting, the topic of subdivision street standards came up and ATB explained that it was taken back with the speed of the topic. ATB did send a letter to Pima County asking for time for our members to meet and offer suggestions and/or alternatives to the topic. It was explained that using Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) in subdivisions might be the only option while the County explained the length of life and little maintenance. Many of the members who joined the meeting were skeptical of the lifespan and maintenance schedule presented by the County. However, the County referred to areas in North Carolina that have had success with RCC . ATB will create a sub committee to review the County’s proposal and all are welcome to attend.
The American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) Foundation, which is administering the Safety Certification for Transportation Project Professionals (SCTPP) program, engaged Professional Testing Inc. (PTI)—an internationally recognized consulting firm specializing in helping industries and government agencies develop and manage effective, fair, valid, reliable and legally defensible assessment and evaluation services. The SCTPP program is not a “certificate course” or “self-certification” program. With PTI’s help, it has been designed to meet the rigorous protocols required for accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO/IEC 17024: Conformity Assessment: General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons. A crew of top safety professionals—known as Subject Matter Experts—from leading industry firms, public agencies and academia devoted months of time shaping the program’s scope and crafting the questions for the certification exam. The 2.5-hour test has up to 120 multiple-choice questions, which probe knowledge in assessing project risks, creating project safety plans, implementing and conducting ongoing evaluations of site-specific operational safety plans, and conducting incident investigations. One of the most unique benefits is the program’s broad reach. The exam is open to all transportation project workers, supervisors, foremen, managers, designers, planners, owners, equipment operators, manufacturers and materials suppliers who meet the eligibility requirements. ARTBA’s Foundation has also established an Online Learning Center (“Prep Courses” at www.puttingsafetyfirst.org) with six initial courses to help prepare industry professionals for the exam, while simultaneously providing Professional Development Hours. Earning the SCTPP credential shows employers and peers that certified individuals have the professional core competencies necessary to identify common hazards found on transportation projects and correct them—whether during planning, design or onsite personnel management—and thus prevent incidents that could result in deaths or injuries. In the end, the more trained eyes we have on transportation project sites, the safer those sites will be. It can mean fewer fatalities and injuries; fewer insurance claims and lower insurance premiums; and increased productivity. We invite you to join us by enrolling at least 20 key people at your firm to take the certification exam and earn the SCTPP designation in 2017, and every year after. Protecting the safety of the industry’s important asset—its employees—and the motoring public, is our collective responsibility. Together, let us strive to make transportation project sites zero-fatality and zero-injury zones.
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), our national affiliate, is now conducting its fourth Quarter 2016 Industry Conditions Survey and would appreciate your participation. As in the past, ARTBA will use the survey results in its advocacy efforts by showing elected officials and the media true “on the ground conditions” within the industry. This survey takes about 5-10 minutes to complete, asks for general information, and is confidential. Responses are due January 9, 2017. Take the survey online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GKND7JH.