Government Affairs

ACPA Urges White House Officials to Support DOTs

ACPA and about 30 other organizations* sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging an  immediate $49.95 billion infusion of federal funding for state DOTs.

“Preserving the continuity of state transportation programs now will help forestall further job losses in public and private sectors and allow planned transportation projects to move forward,” the letter says.  Copies of the letter were sent to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The letter adds that many state governments are facing severe losses in revenues, including dedicated user fee revenues on which State DOTs heavily rely. Projections continue to show decreases in state motor fuel tax and toll receipts as nationwide vehicle traffic reduction bottomed out at about 50 percent in early April.

The letter says AASHTO estimates a 30% average decline in state transportation revenues through 2021 and adds some states could experience losses as high as 45 percent. “This urgently needed funding will prevent disruptions to planned transportation projects and allow state DOT employees and transportation construction workers essential to planning and delivering these projects to remain on the job.”   Click here to see the letter.

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* The groups, representing AHUA, the HMG, TCC, and State DOTs included: American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, American Concrete Pavement Association, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona, American Road & Transportation Builders Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Traffic Safety Services Association, Associated Equipment Distributors, Associated General Contractors, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Auto Care Association, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions, Inc., Greyhound Lines, Inc., Maryland Asphalt Association, Mercer Strategic Alliance, Inc., Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), NACE International, NACE International Institute, National Asphalt Pavement Association, National Asphalt Pavement Association, National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, Portland Cement Association, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, RV Industry Association, Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association, Tire Industry Association, Trinity Highway Products, LLC.

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

ACPA Urges Senate to Approve the Great American Outdoors Act 

ACPA and other members of the Highway Materials Group* sent a letter to the Senate supporting passage of the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act.

If approved, the legislation will invest in improving the infrastructure within the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other federally managed lands where there is a large maintenance backlog much of which is related to transportation assets.

To address this, the proposed legislation would establish the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Fund, which would direct up to $9.5 billion in non-taxpayer monies over five years to address priority repairs in national parks and on other public lands. Click here to see the letter.

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* The Highway Materials Group is comprised of eleven national associations, representing companies that provide the construction materials and equipment essential to building America’s roads, highways and bridges. The HMG associations’ members employ tens of thousands of men and women in well-paying American jobs, and support increased investment in America’s surface transportation network. Members include: American Coal Ash Association; America Concrete Pavement Association; American Traffic Safety Services Association; Associated Equipment Distributors; Association of Equipment Manufacturers; Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute; National Asphalt Pavement Association; National Ready Mixed Concrete Association; National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association; Portland Cement Association; and Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute.

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

FHWA Roundtable Discussion Draws Attention to Sustainability Needs

The FHWA Sustainable Pavements Technical Working Group (SPTWG) met on June 3 and the virtual roundtable discussion presented what organizers called a guided exploration of what the FHWA’s Sustainable Pavements Program has accomplished over the last 10 years.

The web conference also explored how the current situation may be affecting implementation efforts, and what we can do in the future to continue advancing the program’s goals. Much of the discussion focused on progress with the development and use of Environmental Product Declarations* and an update on the FHWA life cycle assessment (LCA) tool.

“The SPWG represents a broad cross-section of the pavement community – agency, industry, academia, consultants, etc.,” says Leif Wathne, who represented ACPA and the concrete pavement industry.  “The group allows for honest and spirited exchanges and has made progress increasing the visibility of sustainable practices and in raising awareness about life cycle assessment, including the very important use-phase.”

“Even, so we are still not focusing appropriately on some primary drivers,” he says, noting that the current economic realities, increased attention among lawmakers, and other factors will continue to influence decision-making.

“The current economic realities mirror those of the Great Recession of 2007.  Sustainability efforts lost some steam because economic realities caused first cost to dominate,” he says, adding, “in addition, there are political obstacles that sometimes hamper progress on sustainability efforts. In the near term, it may make sense to shift toward a focus on the economic aspects of sustainability – as economic messages still very much resonate, and economically sustainable practices are typically also environmentally sustainable.  Also, we anticipate a gradual shift toward resilience. As resilience is tied very closely to economic sustainability and responsible resource use (i.e., environmental sustainability).”

“Although we are encouraged by FHWA’s continued focus on life cycle thinking, our industry continues to be somewhat concerned about FHWA launching an LCA tool that omits use-phase impacts, which in some cases can be quite dominant, particularly as there are already other pavement LCA tools available that do factor in use-phase impacts,” he says. Leif cautioned that the FHWA must make it “abundantly clear to the user that the use-phase is not included in its LCA tool, and must guide the user to understand that the LCA tool can be used only for a very narrow set of circumstances.”

The LCA 2020 conference originally scheduled for last week has been postponed until January 13-15, 2021, in Davis, CA.

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* Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) provides quantifiable environmental data to compare products that fulfill the same function. In order to create comparable EPDs, they must follow the rules and guidelines called for in the associated Product category rules (PCRs), which are a set of specific rules, requirements, and guidelines, for developing environmental declarations for one or more products that can fulfill equivalent functions.

T&I Committee Chair Releases Surface Transportation Reauthorization Language

House T&I Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) today released the text of the much-anticipated surface transportation reauthorization, known as the INVEST in America Act, according to information provided by ACPA legislative consultants Ed Graber and Chad Bradley. This is a five-year, $494 billion package built largely on the framework he released in January. (Click here to see related story.)

According to sources with the committee, there are three main titles, with topline funding amounts of $319 billion for highways, $105 billion for transit, and $60 billion for rail. This represents an increase in highway funding of roughly 46%.

The major themes of the bill are state of good repair, safety and climate mitigation, and resiliency.

For the Highways title, FY 2021 would see an extension of current policies under current law, though the boosted funding levels in the bill allow continued recovery from COVID-19 rather than a mandate to stand up new programs while agencies are still recovering. There will also be new eligibilities to help with recovery like allowing funds for operations and administrative expenses, as well as 100% federal cost share (i.e. waiving state-match requirements).

Starting in FY 2021, the new programs and policies that would take effect, include:

  • Significant changes to highway grant programs, though formulas are the same.
  • Dedicated bridge investment program, 20% of the highway formula or about $28 billion.
  • Changes to the national highway performance program to put more focus on state of good repair.
  • A doubling of funds for vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and a focus on cybersecurity to push pilots toward implementation. The bill also includes a new national 50-state VMT pilot program to research alternative funding mechanisms for transportation infrastructure.

There is also a series of climate change provisions throughout the measure, including:

  • A new apportionment program, with one part focused on climate change mitigation and another on resiliency.
  • A resiliency program funded at S6.25 billion. A natural infrastructure component would be added to eligibility.
  • Pollution reduction and resiliency woven into the project planning process.
  • Funding for new research into green highway materials.
  • Policies supporting complete streets.

The committee tentatively plans to mark up the bill June 17. It is worth noting that T&I majority have not yet shared details on the bill’s policies or timing with their Republican counterparts, nor has the Ways and Means Committee decided how it will pay for the bill.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), in a ‘dear colleague’ letter dated May 29th indicated that surface transportation legislation is among several must-pass bills slated for consideration on the floor in late June through July.

We will keep you apprised as more details are made available. We consider it a good sign that the House is prioritizing a surface transportation bill this summer.

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Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

President Orders Federal Agencies to Remove Regulatory Barriers

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order directing federal agencies to use maximum effort to eliminate regulatory barriers that could slow recovery of the U.S. economy from its pandemic-induced slump, according to ARTBA’s Washington Newsline.

The “Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery” order says “agencies should address this economic emergency by rescinding, modifying, waiving, or providing exemptions from regulations and other requirements that may inhibit economic recovery, consistent with applicable law and with protection of the public health and safety, with national and homeland security, and with budgetary priorities and operational feasibility.”

 The order also makes several significant changes to regulatory policy, including:

  • Directing all agencies to consider adopting a “good faith” standard for regulatory enforcement actions;
  • Stating that non-adherence to agency guidance should not be the sole reason for an agency enforcement action;
  • Shifting the burden of proof to the government for regulatory compliance; subjects of enforcement actions would not “bear the burden” of proving compliance; and
  • Affording subjects of any enforcement action an opportunity to respond before any enforcement action.

Individual agencies are likely to implement the order in different ways. The Office of Management and Budget will monitor compliance and issue additional details.

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Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

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