Government Affairs

FHWA Workshops Explore Specs, Research and Technology

Two workshops this week gave the FHWA, state transportation officials, industry and academia an opportunity to discuss timely issues and address strategic questions regarding performance-related specifications (PRS), as well as pavement and paving materials research and technology (R&T).

Leif Wathne of ACPA and Gordon Smith of the CP Tech Center were on hand to represent concrete pavement interests at the FHWA PRS stakeholder workshop on October 15. Key questions presented to state transportation agencies centered on the biggest issue that performance testing can address; agencies’ experience with performance testing, types of performance tests required, and types of performance testing agencies have tried or are using presently. Brian Fouch, Director of the FHWA’s Office of Preconstruction, Construction, and Pavements opened the meeting and set the stage for both open and facilitated discussions. The workshop also included four plenary sessions aimed that focused on opportunities and barriers associated with both concrete and asphalt performance engineered pavements and PRS.

ACPA Chairman Jim Mack, CEMEX; ACPA 2nd Vice-Chairman David Howard, Koss Construction; Leif Wathne, and Gordon Smith were among the participants at the second workshop, which began today and runs through Thursday, October 17. The purpose of this workshop is to gather program-level stakeholder input for issues to be addressed through the FHWA’s Pavement and Materials Program, all with an eye on current and future R&T programs.

The workshop presented opportunities for state transportation officials and industry representatives to present their top three pavement & materials issues; key areas/products that should be promoted nationally; and areas of support requested from the FHWA. Other discussion topics included pavement design and analysis, pavement management (PM2 rules); pavement design policy outreach; performance-engineered mix design (PEMD) and PRS; the FHWA Mobile Technology Center program; FHWA’s Materials laboratory research, pavement research, safety, pavement preservation and quality assurance. Both workshops were held at the Turner–Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, VA.

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Photo: FHWA Associate Administrator for Infrastructure Hari Kalla makes opening remarks at the FHWA’s Research and Technology Workshop.

News from Capitol Hill

This is the latest installment of highlights of PCA’s “This Week in Washington” update. Interested in seeing more?  Become an ACPA Advocacy Interest Member.* Advocacy Interest Members are eligible to participate in the Legislative Issues Committee (LIC). Click here to join!

  • In follow-up to an oversight hearing in May, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) on October 7th released three Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to address demurrage and accessorial rules and charges, with the aim of improving transparency and the dispute resolution process. One NPRM clarifies STB oversight of demurrage and applies to rail shipments of cement and other exempted commodities. PCA says they see this as a first step toward providing the cement industry greater protection against unreasonable rates and practices. 
  • Following the electrocution deaths of three miners over 42 days, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued an Electrical Safety Alert reminding all miners, contractors and mine operators of best management practices when working with electricity.  This is a somber and important reminder for all companies, including cement producers and concrete pavement contractors, to revisit their lockout/tagout procedures and other safety practices in plants and workzones.
  • As a member of the Opportunity America Jobs and Careers Coalition, PCA recently signed onto a coalition letter to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, in support of the Student Aid Improvement Act. The legislation would make Pell Grants available to students enrolled in college job training programs shorter than a semester that lead to industry-recognized credentials and skills in demand in the labor market.  At a time when workforce issues are in sharp focus for many in the industry, this legislation could be beneficial to attracting and retaining workers. 

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* Advocacy Interest Membership is a special individual membership category. To be eligible for membership in this category, a member must be a stockholder, owner, director, or employee of a member admitted to any other class of membership (Article IV, Section a-i, and l). In addition, to become and remain eligible, individuals must affirm their Advocacy Interest Membership annually.

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AASHTO Elects 2020 Officers

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has named its top officers for the 2019-2020 term. AASHTO has elected Patrick McKenna, Director of the Missouri DOT, as President and New Hampshire DOT Commissioner Victoria Sheehan as Vice President.  Commissioner Sheehan becomes the second woman in AASHTO’s 105-year history to serve in that role.

McKenna says he plans to focus on surface transportation funding reauthorization and transportation safety.

“We need to make clear the public benefit of federal surface transportation investment and its impact on the safety, mobility, health, and economic well-being of all Americans,” he explained in his emphasis areas paper released at the meeting.

Launching a national campaign focused on how “transportation is personal” that explains the many benefits transportation investment provides to all Americans is one tactic McKenna plans to spearhead during his term as AASHTO’s 2019-2020 president as part of the organization’s effort to get surface transportation funding legislation reauthorized. He also plans to place renewed focus on reducing transportation fatalities, which McKenna described as a “national public health crisis” in his remarks.

To help reduce the estimated 36,700 highway fatalities, McKenna said AASHTO will continue its role in the Towards Zero Deaths and Vision Zero national coalitions while facilitating discussions with state DOTs and local communities to consider ways to deploy “innovative infrastructure designs and technologies” to more safely accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists and scooter users.

McKenna was appointed as Missouri DOT’s director in 2015.  He previously served as MAASTO President and is a member of the TRB executive committee. He earned an undergraduate degree in finance from Bentley College and an MS in management and finance from the University of Maryland. 

Sheehan was appointed New Hampshire DOT Commissioner in 2015. She previously served with the Massachusetts DOT’s highway division, where she served in a number of roles, including her most recent post as Manager of Strategic Planning and Highway performance.  Originally from Northern Ireland, Sheehan holds a Master’s in Structural Engineering and Architecture from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

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Photo:  AASHTO 2019/20 President Patrick McKenna and Vice President Victoria Sheehan. (Credit: AASHTO)

Letters Convey Appreciation for Research Funding

The American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA), National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) and Portland Cement Association (PCA) have sent letters to U.S. House and Senate Appropriation Committee leaders to express appreciation for inclusion of funding for increased airfield pavement research in S. 2520 and H.R. 3055 (Division E) appropriations bills for fiscal year 2020. 

Gerald Voigt, P.E. (ACPA), Audrey Copeland, Ph.D., P.E. (NAPA), and Michael Ireland (PCA) co-signed the letters to the Senate and House Committees’ transportation subcommittee leaders. The letters went to House subcommittee Chair David Price and Ranking Member Mario Diaz-Balar and Senate  subcommittee Chair Susan Collins and Ranking Member Jack Reed.  

The research funding, if approved in the final appropriations bill, would be used to support a research provision included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 Sec. 744 “Research and deployment of certain airfield pavement technologies.” The provision is similar to the Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) first included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP 21), creating both a mechanism and funding for the delivery of pavement technology. 

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Associations Express Support for Research Funding

The chief executives of the American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA), National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) and Portland Cement Association (PCA) today issued a joint statement welcoming the inclusion of funding for increased airfield pavement research in S. 2520 and H.R. 3055 (Division E) appropriations bills for fiscal year 2020. The House passed H.R. 3055 in June, and the Senate will consider S. 2520 as it works through the appropriations process over the coming weeks. Click here to see the joint statement.

Gerald Voigt, P.E. (ACPA), Audrey Copeland, Ph.D., P.E. (NAPA), and Michael Ireland (PCA) released the statement, which was sent to the media and shared with members of the three associations.  Letters were send to Senate Appropriations Committee members, also expressing support for the research provision. 

The research funding, if approved in the final appropriations bill, would be used to support a research provision included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 Sec. 744 “Research and deployment of certain airfield pavement technologies.” The provision is similar to the Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) first included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP 21), creating both a mechanism and funding for the delivery of pavement technology. AID-PT was also included in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, and provides funding through 2020.  

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