Government Affairs

NHI Announces Concrete Pavement Preservation Courses

The National Highway Institute (NHI) announced this week the five-part distance learning program, “Constructing Quality PCC Pavement Preservation Treatments.” The comprehensive program was developed under the auspices of the NHI through a cooperative agreement between the FHWA and the CP Tech Center. 

ACPA and IGGA were instrumental in providing content for the courses, and we invested significant time and resources, providing information, images, and other support for the project. The online courses include the following topics:

  • How to Construct Durable Full-Depth Repairs in Concrete Pavements (FHWA-NHI-134207A)
  • How to Construct Durable Partial-Depth Repairs in Concrete Pavements (FHWA-NHI-134207B)
  • Proper Diamond Grinding Techniques for Pavement Preservation (FHWA-NHI-134207C)
  • Proper Construction Techniques for Dowel Bar Retrofit (DBR) and Cross-Stitching (FHWA-NHI-134207D)
  • Proper Joint Sealing Techniques for Pavement Preservation (FHWA-NHI-134207E)

The progam provides a total of 13.5 hours of online learning of pavement preservation methods and technologies.  Courses are also available in English and Spanish. Click here to view the course selection and register. 

Inside a New Infrastructure Investment Framework

The Chairs of three U.S. House Committees today released a framework for a five-year, $760 billion investment in infrastructure. 

“Moving America and the Environment Forward” is aimed at meeting some of the country’s most urgent infrastructure needs, from addressing the massive maintenance backlog, to designing safer streets, to putting the U.S. on a path toward zero emissions from the transportation sector and increasing resiliency, according to a joint press release issued by the Chairs. The framework was advanced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04), Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06) and Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA-01).

Their aim is to bolster the Federal role to help communities around the country undertake transformative projects that are smarter, safer, and made to last. Among other things, the framework outlines major investments, including those in highways, rail, and transit systems, airports, ports and harbors, wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, brownfields, and broadband.

Citing transportation networks developed nearly 70 years ago, Chair DeFazio says, “It’s past time for transformational investments to make our infrastructure smarter, safer, and resilient to climate change, or else we will keep throwing money at an antiquated system that is only holding us and our economy back,” Chair DeFazio said. 
The full framework is outlined in a multipart, 19-page PDF.  To view or download it, click here.

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Environmental Rulemaking Process Opens

On January 10, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed amendments to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations.

The changes in the proposed rulemaking process are substantial and numerous, according to Nossman LLP, which authored a report with detailed analysis of some of the key changes. We’ve highlighted three rules we believe may be of particular interest to ACPA contractors:

  • Presumptive Review Timelines for EAs and EISs–Limits to 1 year the time limit for completing an environmental analysis and to 2 years for an environmental impact study. Nossaman notes that there can be a lot of exclusions to these limit though.
  • The Scope of the NEPA Analysis When Federal Agency Control of a Non-Federal Project is Limited–The scope of NEPA analysis typically applies to non-federal highway or pipeline projects that require federal water permits to cross rivers and streams. The new rule would appear to expand on the limitation on reviews, but it’s not clear exactly who the limitations or the implications of expanding those limitations would be.
  • Limitations on Commenting–This would limit comment periods for EAs and IESs to 30 days.

Nossaman says that while the proposed rulemaking process represent the first significant overhaul of CEQ’s NEPA regulations in more than 40 years, the practical impact of the sweeping regulatory changes is far from clear. Click here to read the report, “Will Long-Awaited Changes to NEPA Materially Alter Federal Environmental Reviews?”  

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FHWA to Consider Overlays for Innovation Program

ACPA and the CPTech Center are jointly submitting concrete overlays as a candidate for round 6 of the FHWA’s Every Day Counts (EDC) program. The submittal is part of a broader Targeted Pavement Overlay Solutions for Higher Performance submittal. As part of the submittal, the name of each chapter that supports concrete overlays as an innovation will be included for consideration as part of the submittal.

EDC is an FHWA program designed to work in partnership with state transportation agencies to shorten project time and accelerate deployment of market-ready innovations. The program identifies and deploys proven, yet underutilized innovations, saving time money and resources that can be used to deliver more project.

Round six spans the years of 2020 and 2021. The program was launched in October 2010, according to information posted on the FHWA website.

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FAA & TriServices Discussions Yield Positive Results

A series of meetings last week set a positive tone for developing a collaborative applied research & technology program and for improving airport concrete pavement specifications. 

Representatives of ACPA met with John Dermody, Director of the Office of Airport Safety and Standards; Khalil Kodsi, Airports Division Manager; and Doug Johnson, FAA Headquarters Paving Engineer. Gary Mitchell, ACPA’s Vice President of Airports, says they had a productive discussion about various research topics, as well as how to structure an applied research program that would facilitate agency and industry collaboration.

As ACPA has been reporting, Gary and others representing the concrete pavement industry have fostered an excellent relationship with the agency and have been working closely with officials from  FAA Headquarters and the William J. Hughes Technical Center to discuss both a viable collaboration and specific focal points for applied research that is focused on improving the quality of concrete pavements. As reported in ACPA  TODAY, the 2020 appropriations legislation, signed into law in December, provides funding for R&T similar to what ACPA developed and led to create the Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) program with the FHWA. ACPA worked closely with PCA and NAPA on both programs, and it should be noted that the asphalt pavement industry is also engaged in similar discussions about R&T with FAA officials.

Also last week, there were two meetings with the US military Tri-Services, the first of which involved military officials, ACPA staff, Airfield task force Chairman Martin Holt (Interstate Highway Construction), other contractors, vendors and architectural and engineering (A/E) firms to discuss specifications. The group had a thorough and detailed discussion about the military’s Unified Facilities Guide Specifications, all with the aim of fine tuning and improving the concrete pavement spec.

Later in the week, Gary, Martin Holt and Jerry Voigt, met with the Tri-Services to discuss specifics ways to help improve concrete pavements and concrete pavement construction. “We agreed to enter into a close working relationship,” Gary says, adding that this relationship is focusing on a “better understanding of each other’s perspectives.”

He adds the military has some very exacting standards for quality, and those standards have everything to do with both the overall mission, as well as the type of aircraft taking off and landing on pavements, often in less than ideal conditions. “We understand and appreciate the Department of Defense requirements and why they are so exacting.”

The working relationship is very important and underscores the important point that our goals are the same: to increase the quality of airfield concrete pavements, he says.

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