Government Affairs

FHWA Names Waidelich Executive Director


Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau notified agency employees March 15 that Walter “Butch” Waidelich Jr. was named the Federal Highway Administration’s Executive Director, a position in which he will function as the chief operating officer, according to a March 18 story in the AASHTO NEWS.
Butch Waidelich Jr. addresses ACPA annual meeting attendees in 2014.  (Photo: ACPA.)

Butch Waidelich Jr. addresses ACPA annual meeting attendees in 2014. (Photo: ACPA.)

Waidelich succeeds Anthony Furst, Associate Administrator for Safety, who filled in as acting executive director since October 12. Longtime Executive Director Jeff Paniati left the agency that month to become CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Nadeau later announced that Furst will now take on the role of director of innovative program delivery.

In his March 15 internal message, Administrator Nadeau said Waidelich, who has been the FHWA’s Associate Administrator in the Office of Infrastructure since August 2013, “brings an incredible breadth of agency-wide leadership and federal-aid program experience to this pivotal position.”

Waidelich joined the FHWA in 1988 after service as an engineer/officer in the U.S. Army. His past FHWA leadership positions include Director of Field Services West, which oversaw the activity of that region’s 13 state division offices. He previously served as Division Administrator in California and in Utah; New Hampshire Assistant Division Administrator; District Engineer in Texas; and Engineering Team Leader in Illinois.

Since becoming a member of the agency’s career senior executive service in 2008, Waidelich led the creation of the FHWA’s risk-based oversight posture in its relationship with state departments of transportation, Nadeau said, and “championed the integration of risk management into how FHWA establishes annual priorities.”

The administrator said Waidelich brings to the COO position “strong leadership skills . . . [a] results-oriented management approach,” and a “capacity to collaboratively engage across a broad range of stakeholders and partners and build trust with them.”

 

Update on FAA Reauthorization

Following the recent House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approval of a six-year, $69 billion Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, the following information captures highlights of the legislation. 

Of particular interest to the construction industry is the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) within the bill.  AIP provides grants to local owners for the development of public-use airports, including the construction and rehabilitation of runways, taxiways, etc.  AIP funds can be used on most airfield capital improvements or repairs.

ACPA, working with PCA and NAPA, continues to advocate for the authorization of $4 million in annual funding for pavement research ($2 million for concrete and $2 million for asphalt). The concrete and asphalt industries received funding for airport pavement research for the first time in 2000 when ACPA led an initiative to secure funding in the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century.

The Senate is awaiting House action before it will consider of FAA reauthorization. However, members have already expressed their concern over one of the most controversial aspects of the legislation, the removal of the operation and management of US air traffic control from the legislation.  If this and other details are not worked out before the current authorization expires on March 31, an extension will be likely. 

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.

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