Government Affairs

Transportation Secretary Announces Funding for TIGER Grant Projects

TIGER-logo-genU.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced almost $500 million will be made available for transportation projects across the country in the eighth round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.

The highly competitive TIGER grant program supports innovative projects, including multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional projects, which are difficult to fund through traditional federal programs. This year’s awards focus on capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation for communities, both urban and rural, according to the Transportation Department.

Since 2009, the TIGER grant program has provided a combined $5.1 billion to 421 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and tribal communities, according to the DOT. These federal funds leverage money from private sector partners, states, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations and transit agencies. The federal government’s approximate $500 million investment in 2016 supports about $1.74 billion in overall transportation investments

TIGER funding is provided in the FY 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed into law in December 2015. 

Highlights of the TCC Fly-In, TRIP Meeting

Peter Deem (ACPA Past Chairman-2006 and Honorary Life Member) represented ACPA members at two recent advocacy events in Washington, D.C. 

Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In

Deem reported the Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In last month was well attended … and had a consistent theme throughout.    “The speakers all emphasized that although we have a long-term, five-year highway bill, we do not have a sustainable funding mechanism to keep the highway trust fund solvent moving forward,” he said.  

“They emphasized the need to continue to urge Congress to identify, support and enact a sustainable source of funding,” he said, adding, “We cannot let up with our Congressional delegates.”

At the invitation of Leif Wathne on behalf of the Highway Materials Group, Jack Basso, Chairman of the Mileage-Based User Fee Alliance in Washington, D.C., spoke about vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) fees as a means of supporting transportation construction.   Basso said there is a concern among some that their movements would be tracked.  

He also said VMT- based revenue systems would likely be about 15% more costly to administer than the current motor-fuel (gas) tax because it would require the development of an entirely new system to administer it, and the points of collection would increase from about 850 (refineries and fuel distribution centers), to about 250 million (registered motor vehicles).  Even so, he added that the State of Oregon has taken the lead with VMT, and that Colorado has applied to be a pilot state. 

“We need to solve the funding issue or we could inadvertently destroy our surface transportation system and our commerce and economy with it,” Basso said.

The Road Information Program Meeting

At a meeting of The Road Information Program (TRIP), three speakers representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce nationally, regionally, and among municipal chamber offices, the message was the same as we heard during the fly-in, Deem said, adding,  that board members said we have to remain laser-focused on identifying and championing a sustainable revenue mechanism for our surface transportation system.  

TRIP has been successful with media work and outreach, Deem said.   The efforts have helped influence lawmakers, Deem said, and “we’ve seen increases in transportation-focused gas tax and sales tax increases in 29 states since 2013,   including in conservative states.”

ACPA Participates in PCA Fly-In

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx addresses the Portland Cement Association's 2016 DC Fly-In during a dinner at the Hays Adams Hotel in Washington Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx addresses the PCA’s 2016 DC Fly-In during a dinner at the Hays Adams Hotel in Washington.

ACPA recently participated in the Portland Cement Association’s Washington, D.C. fly-in. ACPA’s Leif Wathne represented ACPA at the event.

During the two-day advocacy event, participants met with 50 Congressional offices, according to PCA. Participants addressed five major policy issues during those meeting, including FAA Authorization, the Water Resources Development Act, Ozone, Fly-Ash and the Waters of the United States Rule.

“The event was well organized and featured some excellent speakers,” Wathne said, noting that in addition to the formal program and visits to the Hill, an evening reception also offered the opportunity to meet informally with Members of Congress and legislative staff.

Sen. Bill Nelson places his hand in a   casting that recognizes him as a "cement champion" as PCA President/CEO Jim Toscas looks on.

Sen. Bill Nelson places his hand in a casting that recognizes him as a “cement champion” as PCA President/CEO Jim Toscas looks on.

U.S. Representatives Charlie Dent (R-Pa.-15), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.-10), and John Shimkus (R-Ill.-15) addressed the participants during the fly-in. Also, Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) attended the event.

Participants also heard from U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, Janet McCabe.

PCA also honored Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) with the 2016 Cement Champion Awards.

Ungerman, Colorado Governor Discuss Concrete Pavements

Gary Ungerman, Manager of Business Development/Principal, Castle Rock Construction Co., LLC., along with other concrete industry officials met recently with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D).  

Representing the Colorado/Wyoming Chapter-ACPA, Ungerman was joined by representatives of the Colorado Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Portland Cement Association, Colorado Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, and American Concrete Pipe Association.

“We discussed the proposed deGary Ungerman-John Hickenloopervelopment of a hospital provider fee enterprise, supported by the Governor, which could yield extra money for transportation construction spending,” he said.

The group also discussed proposed ballot initiative to introduce a sales tax to fund transportation, an initiative advanced by a transportation funding advocacy group and several construction associations in the state.   The governor expressed his support for the initiative, which was set for the November elections, but it has since been withdrawn in part because of the “avalanche of proposals being considered for this cycle,” said Tony Milo, Executive Director of the Colorado Contractors Association.  He added the coalition is planning to develop a modified measure for 2018.

“We also discussed how the large-scale public/private partnership projects are greatly appreciated; however, they benefit one contractor, not necessarily the industry,” Ungerman said, adding, “This led into a discussion about competition between asphalt and concrete creating a better value for taxpayers.” “We pointed out that CDOT had let an alternate bid in a predominantly asphalt region in Craig, Colo.,” Ungerman said, adding, “We emphasized that concrete had taken this bid. The governor reacted to this with surprise, noting that he thought asphalt pavement was driven predominantly by oil prices.”

The American Concrete Pipe Association was present, and their representative pointed out that reinforced concrete pipe for this region is predominately produced in Colorado, whereas PVC pipe is typically imported, therefore having a negative impact on taxes and jobs.

“The governor said he loves concrete, and if it were totally up to him all roads would be concrete,” Ungerman added.

Advocacy Events Coming up this Month

TCC_FlyIN2016

While Federal-aid surface transportation programs may only be reauthorized every few years, it’s important that the concrete pavement industry and other transportation industry partners continue to maintain a strong presence and work together to address federal-aid highway and airport funding issues. Two planned for May will provide industry the opportunity to join with other like-minded groups for just that purpose.  

The Transportation Construction Coalition’s annual fly-in is scheduled for May 10 through 11 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington, D.C.  Peter Deem, Honorary Life Member of ACPA, will be participating in the fly-in, and others are encouraged to participate in the event as well.  The fly-in begins with a legislative and regulatory briefings, followed by a cocktail reception on the Hill.  The next day begins with a breakfast, followed by visits with elected officials on Capitol Hill.  For more information, including event and hotel registration, please click here for a downloadable flyer.  Please click here for an invitation to the cocktail reception and here for an agenda of the TCC’s May 10th meeting.

Also on May 10, the Highway Materials Group, will be holding a meeting at the Washington Hyatt Hotel (Columbia A), beginning at 10 a.m.  Attendance is free of charge, and all ACPA members and affiliates are welcome to attend the meeting.  Click here to see the agenda, including speakers, topics, and times.

Also, the Portland Cement Association is planning its annual cement & concrete industry fly-in on May 24 through 25.   ACPA Executive Vice President Leif Wathne is scheduled to participate in the event.   Members interested in participating are encouraged to contact PCA’s Rachel Derby at rderby@cement.org

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