Government Affairs

HMG Discusses Highway Legislation and More

The Highway Materials Group met this week to discuss several promising legislative initiatives, as well as to map out plans to inform and persuade Members of Congress on issues of mutual importance to the industry.

HMG members heard an update on the House Democrat Infrastructure Framework Announcement (first reported in ACPA TODAY on January 31.)  Group members also discussed a recent House Ways & Means Infrastructure Finance Hearing.

Also on the agenda were the topic of letters on recent actions on a number of policy issues including resilience, material neutrality, passenger facilities charges, hours of service, etc.  A Capitol Hill briefing addressed the members associations’ concerns about the need for surface action and concern of short-term extensions/inactivity, which led to a discussion about an action plan for 2020.

The group also discussed several issues related to the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA), which provides $287 billion in contract authority over five years beginning at the expiration of the FAST Act on September 30, 2020.  Click here to see our original report on the ATIA.

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The Highway Materials Group is comprised of eleven national associations, representing companies that provide the construction materials and equipment essential to building America’s roads, highways and bridges. The HMG associations’ members employ tens of thousands of men and women in well-paying American jobs, and support increased investment in America’s surface transportation network.  Members include: American Coal Ash Association; America Concrete Pavement Association; American Traffic Safety Services Association; Associated Equipment Distributors; Association of Equipment Manufacturers; Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute; National Asphalt Pavement Association; National Ready Mixed Concrete Association; National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association; Portland Cement Association; and Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute.

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NHI Announces Concrete Pavement Preservation Courses

The National Highway Institute (NHI) announced this week the five-part distance learning program, “Constructing Quality PCC Pavement Preservation Treatments.” The comprehensive program was developed under the auspices of the NHI through a cooperative agreement between the FHWA and the CP Tech Center. 

ACPA and IGGA were instrumental in providing content for the courses, and we invested significant time and resources, providing information, images, and other support for the project. The online courses include the following topics:

  • How to Construct Durable Full-Depth Repairs in Concrete Pavements (FHWA-NHI-134207A)
  • How to Construct Durable Partial-Depth Repairs in Concrete Pavements (FHWA-NHI-134207B)
  • Proper Diamond Grinding Techniques for Pavement Preservation (FHWA-NHI-134207C)
  • Proper Construction Techniques for Dowel Bar Retrofit (DBR) and Cross-Stitching (FHWA-NHI-134207D)
  • Proper Joint Sealing Techniques for Pavement Preservation (FHWA-NHI-134207E)

The progam provides a total of 13.5 hours of online learning of pavement preservation methods and technologies.  Courses are also available in English and Spanish. Click here to view the course selection and register. 

Inside a New Infrastructure Investment Framework

The Chairs of three U.S. House Committees today released a framework for a five-year, $760 billion investment in infrastructure.

“Moving America and the Environment Forward” is aimed at meeting some of the country’s most urgent infrastructure needs, from addressing the massive maintenance backlog, to designing safer streets, to putting the U.S. on a path toward zero emissions from the transportation sector and increasing resiliency, according to a joint press release issued by the Chairs. The framework was advanced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04), Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06) and Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA-01).

Their aim is to bolster the Federal role to help communities around the country undertake transformative projects that are smarter, safer, and made to last. Among other things, the framework outlines major investments, including those in highways, rail, and transit systems, airports, ports and harbors, wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, brownfields, and broadband.

Citing transportation networks developed nearly 70 years ago, Chair DeFazio says, “It’s past time for transformational investments to make our infrastructure smarter, safer, and resilient to climate change, or else we will keep throwing money at an antiquated system that is only holding us and our economy back,” Chair DeFazio said. The full framework is outlined in a multipart, 19-page PDF.  To view or download it, click here.

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Environmental Rulemaking Process Opens

On January 10, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed amendments to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations.

The changes in the proposed rulemaking process are substantial and numerous, according to Nossman LLP, which authored a report with detailed analysis of some of the key changes. We’ve highlighted three rules we believe may be of particular interest to ACPA contractors:

  • Presumptive Review Timelines for EAs and EISs–Limits to 1 year the time limit for completing an environmental analysis and to 2 years for an environmental impact study. Nossaman notes that there can be a lot of exclusions to these limit though.
  • The Scope of the NEPA Analysis When Federal Agency Control of a Non-Federal Project is Limited–The scope of NEPA analysis typically applies to non-federal highway or pipeline projects that require federal water permits to cross rivers and streams. The new rule would appear to expand on the limitation on reviews, but it’s not clear exactly who the limitations or the implications of expanding those limitations would be.
  • Limitations on Commenting–This would limit comment periods for EAs and IESs to 30 days.

Nossaman says that while the proposed rulemaking process represent the first significant overhaul of CEQ’s NEPA regulations in more than 40 years, the practical impact of the sweeping regulatory changes is far from clear. Click here to read the report, “Will Long-Awaited Changes to NEPA Materially Alter Federal Environmental Reviews?”  

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FHWA to Consider Overlays for Innovation Program

ACPA and the CPTech Center are jointly submitting concrete overlays as a candidate for round 6 of the FHWA’s Every Day Counts (EDC) program. The submittal is part of a broader Targeted Pavement Overlay Solutions for Higher Performance submittal. As part of the submittal, the name of each chapter that supports concrete overlays as an innovation will be included for consideration as part of the submittal.

EDC is an FHWA program designed to work in partnership with state transportation agencies to shorten project time and accelerate deployment of market-ready innovations. The program identifies and deploys proven, yet underutilized innovations, saving time money and resources that can be used to deliver more project.

Round six spans the years of 2020 and 2021. The program was launched in October 2010, according to information posted on the FHWA website.

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