Government Affairs

Study: U.S. Mayors Consider Infrastructure Investment High Priority

America’s mayors consider infrastructure investment a high priority, according to a study released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Siemens USA, and conducted by The Harris Poll.

From public works projects to filling potholes, repairing roads, solid waste management, and other projects, mayors from small to large cities and across all regions argue that investing in infrastructure to generate jobs and economic growth are the top immediate (69%) and long-term (71%) priorities.

The study, “Infrastructure, Technology and Mayors’ Priorities for Confronting a Health, Economic and Societal Crisis” finds that even though infrastructure investment and job growth are priorities, COVID-19 has had detrimental impacts on city operating budgets.

Nearly all mayors (98%) expect their city’s operating budget to decline over the next 12 to 18 months, with 2 in 3 (66%) attributing all or most of the decline to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, these mayors agree that infrastructure improvements are necessary to support a strong recovery and a more resilient future.

This new study supports a push for federal assistance to states and localities, an initiative that ASCE (which announced the study) and many other transportation organizations have advocated for fervently.

The vast majority of mayors agree that the federal government should be doing more: 94% agree that the federal government should provide emergency fiscal relief for America’s cities to mitigate the budget shortfalls resulting from COVID-19’s impact on their local economies and 86% say that without financial assistance from the federal government, the ability of their city’s economy to bounce back will be significantly delayed.

Earlier this summer, the National League of Cities reported that over 700 cities will need to delay or cancel capital investments in infrastructure due to the pandemic. Delays of this magnitude will have a long-term impact on the state of our nation’s infrastructure. State and local revenues have been decimated and this will constrain their ability to keep up with road maintenance and address unbudgeted crises. On a parallel path, American families are paying a hidden tax of $9 dollars a day because of our D+ outdated, unreliable infrastructure, ASCE says.

Click here to view the full report online and here for downloadable executive summary (PDF).

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ASCE: Infrastructure Investment Gap is About $5 Trillion

With the impending expiration of the FAST Act, the ASCE released new data on transit systems, roads, and bridges.

The report shows the current transportation system investment trends are unsustainable, producing dire consequences for the American people and the economy. The cumulative investment gap between what we are currently spending and what we need to spend to decrease congestion and maintain our assets in a state of good repair is approximately $5 trillion in 2019 dollars, says ASCE.

If industry costs are passed on to consumers, cost per household could be as high as $12,500 over 20 years, or $625 dollars per household. Over time, the effects worsen. Losses to households and industries will amount to $677 billion over the 2020 -2029 period and $1.3 trillion during the 2030-2039 decade, according to the report.

Looking specifically at roads, the funding gap required to rehabilitate pavement and make other operational condition improvements is $12 billion annually, or nearly $238 billion over 20 years. In other words, spending on highways must increase 29 percent over current spending levels to address the current backlog and anticipated future backlogs.

Click here to read “Failure to Act,” the report of preliminary findings. The full report will be released later this year.

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House Continuing Resolution Includes One-Year Highway Bill Extension

Thanks in part to a vociferous call to action by our industry, progress has been made here in Washington in recent days on a highway bill extension. The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved by a vote of 359-57-1, a short-term measure to avert a federal government shutdown through December 11, 2020. The measure includes a one-year extension to the highway program. The Surface Transportation Program Extension is contained in Division B of the measure and starts on page 43 (see link below).

Next the measure will be considered by the Senate, where it is expected to pass.

Also of importance to our industry, the measure authorizes the transfer of $10.4 billion to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) from the general fund (and another $3.2 billion for transit) to keep the HTF solvent for the duration of the extension.  Unfortunately, the measure does not include any backfill revenue for State DOTs – such relief would have to come via a COVID package, should Congress manage to come together in a bi-partisan way in the coming weeks or months.

Please follow the links in this paragraph to read the measure, “Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act,” and the Section-by-Section Summary.”

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Have You Responded to ACPA’s Call to Action?

With Federal highway and transit programs on the verge of shutting down in two weeks, ACPA launched a call to action late last Friday. We’re reminding readers there is still time to show your support for a legislative call to action to extend the highway bill for one year.

By clicking here, you will arrive at the NACA website, where you can easily and quickly send a letter to members of Congress and President Trump, urging them to take swift and decisive action before the FAST Act, the current surface transportation law, expires on September 30. The process of sending letters takes less than 1 minute and involves clicking on “Take Action,” then sending letters by reviewing and sending the draft letter using separate tabs for Congress and the President.

For those who have not yet participated, ACPA is asking all members, chapter affiliates, staff, and technology partners to contact elected officials as soon as possible to urge them to support three requests:

  • A growth-oriented one-year extension of current surface transportation;
  • Solvency of the Highway Trust Fund; and
  • Emergency funding to state departments of transportation and transit agencies.

Leif Wathne reiterated the urgency and importance of approving a one year extension to the FAST Act in our “3 Minutes on Monday” vlog Monday. He describes our latest grassroots advocacy effort to encourage Congress and the President to enact legislation ahead of the deadline. He also provides some commentary on COVID-19 relief discussions; how the extension might be enacted; and how to participate in the call to action. If you haven’t seen this video message, we encourage you to watch it on YouTube.

You can subscribe to our channel, which features this and many other videos, organized by playlists that group videos by topic. You can select our “3 Minutes on Monday” playlist to see the full array of “3 Minutes on Monday” vlogs, including Jerry Voigt’s discussion about ACPA technical service.

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Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

ACPA and Other Highway Advocates Send Strong Message to Congress

ACPA and members of the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC),* the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition**, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) joined forces to send a strong message to Congress.

In a letter delivered to Congress today, the organizations say their members are facing an unstable future because of pandemic-related revenue reductions. These reductions in federal and state transportation revenues and other sources are impacting critical highway, bridge, and public transit projects.

Making matters worse, the FAST Act expires on September 30th, creating further uncertainty. To prevent cuts in transportation investments and spur the nation’s economic recovery, the groups are urging Congress to pass legislation that includes:

  • A turn-key, one-year extension of the current surface transportation law with increased investment levels;
  • Emergency federal funding for state departments of transportation and public transit agencies—$37 billion and $32 billion, respectively; and
  • Provisions to ensure solvency of the Highway Trust Fund for the duration of the extension at a minimum.

This letter is the latest effort by ACPA and other transportation advocates to inform and persuade Congress of the urgent and critical need for federal funding to stabilize the economy, invest in the nation’s infrastructure, and create and sustain employment for hundreds of thousands of workers.

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* The Transportation Construction Coalition is a partnership of 31 national associations and construction unions representing hundreds of thousands of individuals with a direct market interest in federal transportation programs. TCC is comprised of the American Coal Ash Association; American Concrete Pavement Association; American Concrete Pipe Association; American Iron & Steel Institute; American Road & Transportation Builders Association; American Society of Civil Engineers; American Subcontractors Association; American Traffic Safety Services Association; Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturers Association; Asphalt Recycling and Reclaiming Association; Associated Equipment Distributors; Associated General Contractors of America; American Council of Engineering Companies; Association of Equipment Manufacturers; Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute; International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron; International Slurry Surfacing Association; International Union of Operating Engineers; Laborers’ International Union of North America; Laborers-Employers Cooperation & Education Trust; National Asphalt Pavement Association; National Association of Surety Bond Producers; National Electrical Contractors Association; National Ready Mixed Concrete Association; National Steel Bridge Alliance; National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association; National Utility Contractors Association; Portland Cement Association; Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute; The Road Information Program; and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America.

** The Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition is the transportation team of the US Chamber of Commerce. Members of ATM include the American Council of Engineering Companies; American Public Transportation Association; American Road and Transportation Builders Association; American Society of Civil Engineers; American Trucking Associations; Associated General Contractors; Association of Equipment Manufacturers; International Union of Operating Engineers; Laborers International Union of North America; National Asphalt Pavement Association; Stone, Sand & Gravel Association; Portland Cement Association; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which helps manage ATM.

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

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