Government Affairs

News from Capitol Hill

This is the latest installment of highlights of PCA’s “This Week in Washington” update. Interested in seeing more?  Become an ACPA Advocacy Interest Member.* Advocacy Interest Members are eligible to participate in the Legislative Issues Committee (LIC). Click here to join!

  • The Congressional Budget Office last week released an annual update to the 10-year Budget and Economic Outlook. The report shows little change in the forecast of the Highway Trust Fund. Spending levels are expected to be about ~$1.9 billion lower each year as a result of lower  annual inflation anticipated for the 10-year forecast window.
  • Congress continues its August recess through September 6.  During this time, many U.S. Senators and Representatives are spending some or most of their time in their home states and districts.  Both the House and Senate are scheduled to be in session on September 9.

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* Advocacy Interest Membership is a special individual membership category. To be eligible for membership in this category, a member must be a stockholder, owner, director, or employee of a member admitted to any other class of membership (Article IV, Section a-i, and l). In addition, to become and remain eligible, individuals must affirm their Advocacy Interest Membership annually.

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ACPA Contractors Respond to Proposed HOS Changes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is advancing a proposal that “modernizes current hours of service (HOS) regulations,” according to Ray Martinez, FMCSA Administrator.  He adds these changes were based on feedback from stakeholders and advanced by the U.S. DOT and the Trump Administration.  Five proposed modifications, he says, are aimed at improving safety and providing commercial drivers with greater flexibility.

Here’s what ACPA contractors had to say about the proposed modifications:

“This proposed rule changes continue the common-sense rule changes championed last year by the ACPA for trucks hauling batched concrete from the plant,” says David Howard, P.E., President & CEO of Koss Construction Co. (and 2nd Vice Chairman of the ACPA Board of Directors).  “In construction, and in the paving business in particular, interruptions in production happen and rule changes–like the proposed 30-minute break requirement being modified to qualify the drivers using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off duty status, for break times–help our people tremendously.”

Northern Improvement Co. adds, “The most exciting thing is the 100 miles to 150 air miles while crossing state lines.  Right now, we can only go 150 air miles if we stay in state. It is good that [the FMCSA is] looking at the 14 hour day–that is huge!  I hope they continue with the ‘short haul exemption’ with the proviso that no e-logs will be required.” 

FMCSA on Monday formally published the notice of rulemaking, which signals the beginning of an open comment period.  ACPA encourages members who may be impacted by the proposed modifications to comment. Comments may be added online at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FMCSA-2018-0248-5400

The five proposed modifications include:

  • A change to the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.
  • Modifying the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by 2 hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
  • Increasing flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by tying the break requirement to 8 hours of driving time without an interruption for at least 30 minutes. The change also would allow the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty. 
  • Modifying the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10-hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than 2 consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.
  • Allowing one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than 3 hours; this would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, as long as the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.

For more information, please click here to view HOS page prepared by the FMCA. 

As reported previously, ACPA previously requested exemptions to the HOS regulations.  The effort was led by ACPA staff, along the support of Association members, non-members, and AGC and ARTBA.  FMCSA granted two exemptions based on that request.  Click here to read the story (ACPA TODAY, Feb. 5).
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Dickson Named FAA Administrator

The Hon. Stephen M. Dickson was sworn in Monday by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao as the 18th Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

With almost 40 years of aviation industry experience, Dickson is widely respected and takes on the role of FAA Administrator during a critical moment for aviation safety, according to an FAA press release.

As Administrator, Dickson will lead an agency responsible for the safety and efficiency of the largest aerospace system in the world — a system that operates more than 50,000 flights per day. He will oversee a $16.4 billion-dollar budget, more than 47,000 employees, and focus on ensuring the agency and its employees are the best prepared and trained professionals to meet the growing demands and requirements of the industry, the press release continues.

“I am honored to join the outstanding team at the Federal Aviation Administration and look forward to ensuring our aviation system maintains its proper place, leading the world in both safety and operational performance,” said Captain Dickson, a retired Delta Air Lines official and former U.S. Air Force officer and F-15 pilot.

Acting Administrator Daniel K. Elwell will continue his service to the FAA as Deputy Administrator.  

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Photo:  Federal Aviation Administration file photo.

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Meeting Focuses on Transportation Investment

Continuing our goal of informing elected officials about the importance of tranportation investment, Leif Wathne and Ed Graber met Tuesday with Terra Sabag, Chief of Staff, and Alexandra Menardy, Senior Legislative Aide, for Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA-02). 

The conversation covered transportation topics in general, as well as infrastructure resilience, sustainability and stewardship.  Leif also shared highlights of a recent presentation by Dr. Jeremy Gregory of MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub.  He also shared a factsheet on Washington’s cement and concrete industry, courtesy of PCA.

Rep. Larson is a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and serves as Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee.  His district is in northwest Washington and includes mainland communities in Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties, as well as San Juan and Island counties.  

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ACPA Participates in AASHTO COMP Meeting

The AASHTO Committee on Materials and Pavements (COMP) presents an opportunity for state highway officials to discuss key issues, and in recent years, the committee has invited industry participation. At the COMP meeting in Baltimore, MD, this week, Leif Wathne presented an update on the concrete pavement industry, starting his presentation with an historical perspective on the Maryland Road Test One-MD, a series of tests performed on concrete pavement sections near La Plata, MD, in 1950.  The tests, which used continuous truck traffic under controlled conditions, helped inform the experimental design for the much better known AASHO Road Test, conducted several years later in Ottawa, IL.

Wathne then transitioned form the past to the present and future, with discussions aimed at leadership, stewardship, and life-cycle thinking. He also presented a bright and healthy outlook for the concrete pavement industry and ACPA, drawing on information about the association’s VISION2040 outlook and plan, as well as ways the Association is planning for the future with our Interns for the Future and Emerging Leaders Group. He also commented on PavementDesigner.org, usage of which continues to grow worldwide, and of course, throughout the four AASHTO regions. He concluded his remarks with discussion about other ACPA resources, including the FHWA-sponsored pavement preservation courses currently in final development.

In other COMP business, the pavement related committees discussed the impact of flooding and inundation on the performance of pavements, critical research to support the growing interest in resilient construction. In the year ahead, the committee also plans revisions on AASHTO’s local calibration guide and pavement friction testing.

Tom Yu of the FHWA provided an update on FHWA’s ongoing pavement policy review, into which ACPA has provided detailed input and comments. Yu reported some of the FHWA’s key pavement-related initiatives, including pavement preservation, cost effectiveness, effective foundation design for concrete pavements, and a design catalog based on AASHTO’s ME Pavement Design program. He also reported on the Concrete Clips series of seven YouTube videos, adding that there are plans to produce ten more videos. ACPA has promoted the series heavily in our news and social media channels.

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