Government Affairs

Dickson Named FAA Administrator

The Hon. Stephen M. Dickson was sworn in Monday by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao as the 18th Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

With almost 40 years of aviation industry experience, Dickson is widely respected and takes on the role of FAA Administrator during a critical moment for aviation safety, according to an FAA press release.

As Administrator, Dickson will lead an agency responsible for the safety and efficiency of the largest aerospace system in the world — a system that operates more than 50,000 flights per day. He will oversee a $16.4 billion-dollar budget, more than 47,000 employees, and focus on ensuring the agency and its employees are the best prepared and trained professionals to meet the growing demands and requirements of the industry, the press release continues.

“I am honored to join the outstanding team at the Federal Aviation Administration and look forward to ensuring our aviation system maintains its proper place, leading the world in both safety and operational performance,” said Captain Dickson, a retired Delta Air Lines official and former U.S. Air Force officer and F-15 pilot.

Acting Administrator Daniel K. Elwell will continue his service to the FAA as Deputy Administrator.  

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Photo:  Federal Aviation Administration file photo.

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Meeting Focuses on Transportation Investment

Continuing our goal of informing elected officials about the importance of tranportation investment, Leif Wathne and Ed Graber met Tuesday with Terra Sabag, Chief of Staff, and Alexandra Menardy, Senior Legislative Aide, for Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA-02). 

The conversation covered transportation topics in general, as well as infrastructure resilience, sustainability and stewardship.  Leif also shared highlights of a recent presentation by Dr. Jeremy Gregory of MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub.  He also shared a factsheet on Washington’s cement and concrete industry, courtesy of PCA.

Rep. Larson is a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and serves as Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee.  His district is in northwest Washington and includes mainland communities in Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties, as well as San Juan and Island counties.  

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ACPA Participates in AASHTO COMP Meeting

The AASHTO Committee on Materials and Pavements (COMP) presents an opportunity for state highway officials to discuss key issues, and in recent years, the committee has invited industry participation. At the COMP meeting in Baltimore, MD, this week, Leif Wathne presented an update on the concrete pavement industry, starting his presentation with an historical perspective on the Maryland Road Test One-MD, a series of tests performed on concrete pavement sections near La Plata, MD, in 1950.  The tests, which used continuous truck traffic under controlled conditions, helped inform the experimental design for the much better known AASHO Road Test, conducted several years later in Ottawa, IL.

Wathne then transitioned form the past to the present and future, with discussions aimed at leadership, stewardship, and life-cycle thinking. He also presented a bright and healthy outlook for the concrete pavement industry and ACPA, drawing on information about the association’s VISION2040 outlook and plan, as well as ways the Association is planning for the future with our Interns for the Future and Emerging Leaders Group. He also commented on PavementDesigner.org, usage of which continues to grow worldwide, and of course, throughout the four AASHTO regions. He concluded his remarks with discussion about other ACPA resources, including the FHWA-sponsored pavement preservation courses currently in final development.

In other COMP business, the pavement related committees discussed the impact of flooding and inundation on the performance of pavements, critical research to support the growing interest in resilient construction. In the year ahead, the committee also plans revisions on AASHTO’s local calibration guide and pavement friction testing.

Tom Yu of the FHWA provided an update on FHWA’s ongoing pavement policy review, into which ACPA has provided detailed input and comments. Yu reported some of the FHWA’s key pavement-related initiatives, including pavement preservation, cost effectiveness, effective foundation design for concrete pavements, and a design catalog based on AASHTO’s ME Pavement Design program. He also reported on the Concrete Clips series of seven YouTube videos, adding that there are plans to produce ten more videos. ACPA has promoted the series heavily in our news and social media channels.

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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!

  • At the Democratic party’s second Presidential debates on July 31 and August 1, there were some common signs of agreement. The candidates expressed support for bringing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, significant economic changes with measures to help workers transition, and trillions of dollars of federal investment in technology and infrastructure.
  • Following the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Bipartisan Budget Actof 2019 (by a vote of 67 to 28), the bill was signed by President Donald Trump on August 2. The two-year budget deal sets spending levels, prevents $125 billion in automatic funding cuts, and extends the debt ceiling.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to amend requirements for storing and handling coal ash for beneficial reuse. Instead of raising the current 12.4-ton beneficial use storage threshold to address a math error in the current rule (raised by PCA and others in prior comments), EPA is proposing to replace the beneficial use exception with generic, location-based standards and risk-based containment requirements. Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, there will be a 60-day comment period.
  • President Trump announced on August 1 that he will impose a 10% tariff on some $300 billion worth of Chinese goods starting September 1. This expansion mostly covers consumer goods.
  • The Federal Reserve announced a quarter-point point cut to the federal funds rate on July 31. The rate is what banks and other similar institutions charge one another for short-term borrowing. Central banks in other countries also have cut interest rates, a sign of monetary policy easing.

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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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ACPA Presents Views on Senate EPW Passage of Transportation Bill

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee on Tuesday unanimously voted to approve the draft transportation reauthorization bill, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA). ATIA provides $287 billion in contract authority over five years beginning at the expiration of the FAST Act on September 30, 2020.

Proposed funding levels for core highway programs are:
• FY 20- $43.373 billion (Fast Act level)
• FY 21 – $47.86 billion
• FY 22 – $48.83 billion
• FY23 – $49.85 billion
• FY24 – $50.91 billion
• FY25 – $51.98 billion

Most of the funds (90%) will be distributed by the FAST Act formula with provisos ensuring each state receives back 95% of the amount of motor fuels and other taxes paid into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Each state is guaranteed a 2% increase over FY 2020 FAST Act levels and at least a 1% increase in each subsequent year.

In broad strokes, ACPA is very supportive of this bill, which increases the Federal-Aid formula-program significantly by an average of 15%, or $6.5B/yr. The federal Highway R&D Program, including the Technology and Innovation Deployment program, also gets substantial bumps in the Senate proposal (22.7% and 100%, respectively). With those increases, the ACPA-led AID-PT program* ($12M/year for concrete and asphalt technology implementation and deployment, that helps fund the majority of CP Tech Center’s federal contracts) is included and “enhanced” with some additional reporting requirements.** ACPA believes these additional reporting requirements under the AID-PT program can be helpful to the concrete pavement industry.

It is important to acknowledge that the Senate EPW Committee delivered a surface reauthorization bill ahead of schedule; the FAST Act expires next year. Although this EPW Committe action is the first of many that will be needed to advance a plan to the President, ACPA remains fully committed to working with both the Senate and the House to produce and pass a robust, effective final reauthorization before the expiration of the FAST Act. According to reports by Politico, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has signaled receptiveness to reserving floor time for the ATIA bill this coming fall. ACPA will keep members informed about possible calls to action in this regard.
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* The Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) is a provision first included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP 21).  This ACPA-led initiative created both a mechanism and funding for the delivery of pavement technology.  In 2015, Congress included the program in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which provides funding through 2020. ACPA also advocated for a similar research provision was included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 Sec. 744. Research and deployment of certain airfield pavement technologies.

** Additional reporting requirements include: pavement monitoring and data collection; pavement durability and resilience; stormwater management; vehicle efficiency; the energy efficiency of the production of paving materials; evidence of the ability of paving materials to enhance the environment and promote sustainability; and integration of renewable energy in pavement designs

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