Government Affairs

FHWA Urged to Interpret Buy America Policy Properly

Buy America-GroupLetter_smACPA and other highway advocacy associations have co-signed a letter to FHWA Administrator Greg Nadeau, urging the FHWA to take steps to properly interpret “Buy America” policy within the agency.  Federal Buy America requirements are a key area of compliance for federal-aid highway construction contractors and suppliers. Buy America requires a domestic manufacturing process for any steel or iron products, including protective coatings, that are permanently incorporated in a project funded under Title 23 of the U.S. Code.

The groups contend that “(w)hile the transportation construction industry recognizes the public policy objectives that underpin Buy America, we believe it is equally critical that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the state DOT’s interpret and implement this rule on a clear and consistent basis. With highway and bridge investment constrained at all levels of government, confusion or inconsistencies in the implementation of Buy America can often result in cost increases and delays at the project level. “

In December 2012, FHWA acknowledged the need for clarity by issuing a memorandum detailing the application of Buy America requirements to manufactured products. At the time, according to the memo, some FHWA division offices were interpreting Buy America as applying to “nuts, bolts, washers, and other miscellaneous steel or iron parts used in common off-the-shelf products such as toilets and the filaments in light bulbs.”

The associations contend that “members can attest to significant delays and administrative costs, as contractors were expected to document and certify these miscellaneous items were Buy America-compliant, no matter how incidental or inexpensive.”

A 2012 memo from then-Associate Administrator for Infrastructure John Baxter quieted these concerns and resulted in a more consistent and reasonable interpretation of Buy America across the FHWA division offices and state DOT’s, but a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated FHWA’s memo in last December.   Since then, concerns have been expressed about the uncertainty, cost increases and delays that could result from this decision, as FHWA division offices no longer have clear Buy America policy on which to rely.

The groups are urging FHWA to initiate a notice-and-comment rulemaking, limited to the 2012 memo’s subject area as soon as possible.   Click here to read the letter.

Engbrecht Receives Outstanding Pavement Promotion Award 

DSC08950The 2015 ACPA Outstanding Pavement Promotion Award was presented to Larry Engbrecht, South Dakota Chapter – ACPA, for his professional approach and honorable, straightforward nature as Executive Director of the South

Dakota Chapter-ACPA. These qualities have built a trustful environment where the South Dakota DOT and industry partner together to find mutually beneficial solutions using concrete pavements. This has led to a stable market for concrete paving and the introduction of concrete overlays as a tool in the DOT’s toolbox.

The ACPA Outstanding Pavement Promotion Award has been awarded selectively since 1998.  It is presented to an individual or group who has made significant contributions through promotion efforts or programs to advance the awareness, specification, and/or placement of concrete pavements.   The recipient must be an employee of an ACPA member-company, ACPA national staff, or staff of a local chapter/state association affiliated with ACPA.


Click here to view this and all our 2015 Annual Meeting photos online. 

T&I Chairman Introduces Transportation Extension

(November 16) – U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.-09) today introduced a bipartisan bill (The Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2015, Part II) to extend the authorization for federal highway and transit programs through December 4, 2015.   This extensions was not really unexpected as time was rather compressed for the House and Senate to work out any differences between their respective version of the highway bill during conference negotiations.

 According to a statement released by Chairman Shuster earlier today:

 The House and Senate are making good progress in resolving differences between their respective multi-year surface transportation reauthorization proposals.  The conference committee needs the time necessary to meet in public, complete negotiations, and produce a final measure that helps improve America’s infrastructure.  This clean extension provides time for that process to occur and for the House and Senate to vote on the final legislation, without shutting down transportation programs and projects in the meantime.

Senate Approves Two-Week Transportation Extension

Wasshington, D.C. (November 20) – The U.S. Senate today approved the House-passed two-week extension of highway and transit programs.  (Click here to see related story.)

The president is expected to sign the measure. 

This will keep the highway program running through December 4th, and gives the Conference Committee another two weeks to iron out any final differences in their respective versions of the long-term highway bill, pass the measure in both chambers and present it for the President’s signature.  This is still a pretty aggressive schedule given all the things that have to happen, but leadership is still optimistic that they can get it all done in time.  Hopefully, another short extension will not be necessary.

 Please check our Legislative Resource Center for further developments.

Update on the Highway Bill Extension

November 4, 2015 –  As ACPA reported last week, the President signed another short term extension (H.R. 3819) into law after both Chambers passed the measure. 

The short-term extension provides an additional three weeks of funding for surface transportation programs and extends FHWA’s operating authority through November 20.  The extension does not include additional revenue to the Highway Trust Fund, which is estimated to have sufficient funding to continue normal agency operations and reimbursements to States throughout the extension period.

This week, the House has been busy preparing to bring the “long-term” highway bill to the floor, with the Rules committee establishing the framework under which amendments (numbering in the hundreds) will be considered (i.e. deciding which amendments will be considered and which will not). 

In very broad strokes, said ACPA Executive Vice President Leif G. Wathne, the House is going to debate what is billed as a six year highway bill, but with only three years of payfors (much of which is uncertain), and at flat spending levels (current levels plus inflation, essentially).    It is important to note that the ACPA-advocated AID-PT program is included in this House bill (and in the Senate bill), thanks in large part to the excellent work by our lobbyists and industry partners (including PCA and NAPA).

Although this is not the kind of well-funded, long-term highway bill we all are looking for and deserve, it is better than month-to-month uncertainty and extensions.  ACPA, in conjunction with our partners in the Highway Materials Group have been busy urging members of congress and leadership to pass a multiyear highway bill that can be signed into law before the current short-term extension expires in 16 days.  Click here to view a letter we sent to members of Congress on Monday.  

In that letter, we make the point that status quo funding levels for surface transportation are inadequate, and  that Federal-aid Highway Program investment levels should be based on improving pavement and bridge conditions and performance, and the best way to fund the program is with an increase in the excise motor fuels tax combined with annual indexing. 

We also make the point that flat funding levels does not provide the long term certainty required for adequate planning and cost efficient resource investment, although this multi-year highway bill is an improvement over the recent short-term extensions.  In the final analysis, it is our opinion that this legislation is an important step in resolving the funding dilemma that has been crippling recent efforts to invest properly in America’s highways, roads and bridges. 

In other words, it is a step in the right direction, but we are not done!


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