Government Affairs

Transportation Department to issue Funding for Infrastructure in 20 States

The U.S. Department of Transportation says it plans to issue $906 million to fund 20 projects in 20 states via its Infrastructure for Rebuilding America or INFRA discretionary grant program; funds being funneled largely through state departments of transportation, according to AASHTO.

The agency says that applications for this round of INFRA grant program funding— established by the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act— were evaluated by a team of more than two dozen and selected based on “established criteria to align them with national and regional economic vitality goals.”

The agency noted that Congress will have 60 days to review USDOT proposed awards and after the 60-day review period, USDOT is free to begin obligating funding.

The agency added that 53 percent of this round of proposed INFRA grants will be awarded to rural projects, with six awards totaling $293 million being made to projects that are at least partially located in an Opportunity Zone, while several other projects are located in areas near Opportunity Zones. Click here to see some of the largest projects identified in this round of funding.

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Legislative Issues Steering Committee Meeting Recap

The inaugural meeting of the Legislative Issues Steering Committee (LISC) yesterday focused on establishing ground rules for the group, which plans to meet quarterly – or more frequently if legislative activities warrant discussion.

Led by Co-Chairs Dan Rozycki (The Transtec Group) and Robert Seghetti (ACME Concrete Paving), the LISC will focus on public policy issues; highway and airport authorization and appropriation bills; industry-specific regulatory matters; the ACPA Political Action Committee; and other related topics.

During the meeting, Leif Wathne (staff liaison) provided a brief overview of COVID legislation to date (including the CARES Act and HEROES Act). He also summarized highway-related legislation, including the Senate EPW-passed ATIA, House T&I-passed INVEST, the House minority-introduced STARTER act, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s large infrastructure package (Moving America Act) introduced last week. He added that details of these various legislative packages (CARES, HEROES, ATIA, INVEST) have been presented in our ACPA Today newsletter, where all our government affairs updates are currently shared.

Leif concluded his remarks by saying that “without decisive and bipartisan action by Congress in the next several weeks, it is unlikely that we will see highway legislation enacted before expiry of the FAST Act in September.” He added that a one or maybe two-year extension are possible alternatives and said the full highway bill would then have to be worked out in the 117th Congress. The meeting concluded with remarks from Co-Chairs Rozycki and Seghetti thanking the steering committee participants for committing their time and talent toward this effort.

Participants in the inaugural meeting included: Steve Ambrose, GCC; Sarah Bazey, SIMPLEX; Patrick Cleary, LafargeHolcim; Steve Jackson, Cedar Valley Corp. Inc., LLC; Toby Knott, Lehigh Hanson, Inc.; Bob Leonard, GOMACO Corp.; Mike Lipps, Duit Holdings; Ben Robuck, CEMEX; Dan Rozycki, The Transtec Group; Robert Seghetti, Acme Concrete Paving, Inc. and Leif Wathne, American Concrete Pavement Association.

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House Majority Releases Infrastructure Bill Language

U.S. House Democratic Leaders yesterday released the text of The Moving Forward Act, a Transformational Infrastructure Bill to Create Jobs and Rebuild America (H.R. 2).

The announcement came after a 24-hour, two-day markup process for The INVEST in America Act, which effectively became a provision of The Moving Forward Act, according to AHUA.  For more information, click here to see our coverage of The INVEST in America act.

The structure of the bill remains intact, AHUA says. It is a five-year authorization, and includes increases in funding faster than the rate of inflation; however, the rates of increase for transit and rail programs are faster than for the highway program.

The Moving Forward Act will invest in our nation’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, transit, rail, schools, housing, broadband, drinking and wastewater systems, postal service, clean energy sector, health care infrastructure, and more.

The more than $1.5 trillion proposal is aimed at rebuilding U.S. communities with infrastructure and innovation that is smarter, safer, and made to last. Of particular interest to the concrete pavement industry are the following provisions:

  • (Inclusion of) The INVEST in America Act, a nearly $500 billion investment to rebuild and reimagine the nation’s transportation infrastructure. ACPA’s summary of the INVEST in America Act can be found here.
  • Promotion of investments in our communities by spurring private investment through the tax code, through a revitalized Build America Bonds program, expansions of Private Activity Bonds, and significant enhancements to the New Markets Tax Credit and the Rehabilitation Tax Credit.

In a press release issued yesterday, the House Democrats say the Act “marks a transformational investment in American infrastructure that will create millions of jobs, take bold action on the climate crisis, and address disparities in urban, suburban, and rural communities across our country.”

Joining T&I Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) were other Leaders, including Education and Labor Committee Chair Robert Scott (D-VA); Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA): Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ): Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA); Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY); and Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva.  To read more about the act, click here to download a fact sheet.

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Senate Passes Great American Outdoors Act

The U.S. Senate last Wednesday passed by a 73-25 vote, The Great American Outdoors Act, which will permanently provide $900 million in oil and gas revenues for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which helps secure land for trails and parks, according to THE HILL.

The legislation will also put $6.5 billion toward addressing a maintenance backlog at national parks.

Of special interest to the roadbuilding community is that much of the maintenance backlog is related to transportation assets, including roads.  (Click here to see our coverage of the legislation.)

Commenting on the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), said, “The Great American Outdoors Act will bring much-needed resources to the long-deferred maintenance and upkeep in parks and other public lands all across our country.”

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ACPA and PCA Support LCCA Amendment  

ACPA and PCA sent a letter to all House T&I Committee leaders and members last week during T&I committee markup of the INVEST in America act, expressing support for a  life-cycle cost analysis amendment introduced by Rep. Peter Stauber (R-MN).

Known as amendment number 48, the measure underscores the benefits of LCCA as a means of providing states with a greater understanding of the full cost of highway projects, while also enabling more accurate planning and improved asset management.

“The highways and bridges built today must last for generations to come,” the associations wrote. “For that to happen, the full cost of a project—taking into account its entire life cycle—must be factored into the decision-making process. While initial project costs are significant drivers of decisions, future costs are equally important to understand when making project decisions. In fact, future costs, including maintenance, can often amount to more than fifty percent of a project’s total cost.”

The Portland Cement Association and the American Concrete Pavement Association supports the view that “all possible and proper measures be taken to ensure the tax payers of this country that they are receiving full value of every highway dollar spent.” This view was expressed clearly by the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO), the forerunner of AASHTO, in the context of the early years of Interstate highway construction and full-value return on the investment remains a fundamental principle advocated by the cement and concrete industry to this day.

The associations continue that LCCA is a proven economic analysis technique, based on well‐founded economic principles that are taught in Economics and Civil Engineering programs at the University level throughout the United States. It is a tool for evaluating the long‐term economic efficiency between competing alternate options.

When performed thoroughly and correctly, LCCA, which has been used in highway decision-making for over half a century, will identify the best value solution with the desired performance at the lowest cost over the long-term. Click here to see the complete letter.

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