Government Affairs

Meeting Focuses on Collaborative Airport Pavement Research

Officials from the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center, ACPA, and CP Tech Center met in Atlantic City this week to discuss ways the three organizations may work collaboratively on applied research for airfield concrete pavements.

“We appreciate the warm reception, tour, and generous amount of time we spent with Dr. Michel Hovan, FAA Airport Technology Manager and Jeff Gagnon, FAA Airport Pavement R&D Section Manager,” said ACPA President & CEO Jerry Voigt. “It gave us greater insights into some of the research the FAA is doing in the area of airside pavements.  The meeting also afforded ACPA and the CP Tech Center the opportunity to discuss research efforts with the FHWA and ACPA’s ongoing advocacy efforts, which have included specific airport pavement and highway pavement research programs.”

The meeting included an overview and discussion of current FAA research projects; CP Tech Center’s highway research & tech transfer efforts; and ACPA’s ongoing Federal advocacy efforts. 

“We discussed funding and how ACPA has worked with Federal agencies such as the FAA, FHWA, and Military Tri-Services, as well as elected officials in Washington, D.C.,” says Gary Mitchell, VP of Airports and Pavement Technology. “Our efforts include both highway and airport programmatic funding, but provisions that directly support funding for applied research.” This includes the long-standing AID-PT program, as well as a similar research provision included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 Sec. 744 (Research and deployment of certain airfield pavement technologies). 

Mitchell serves on the FAA’s Research, Engineering, & Development Advisory Committee (REDAC), Subcommittee on Airports, which supports the development of the FAA‘s research and development portfolio through strategic planning, budget formulation, program execution, and program evaluation. ACPA’s Chairman Mack, P.E., (CEMEX) has recently been nominated to serve on the Subcommittee as well and is waiting conformation from the current Administration.

“In the near term,” Mitchell explains, “We will continue the dialogue as we also continue to push for funding to support research for airfield concrete pavements.  Longer term, our goal is to partner with the CP Tech Center and work collaboratively on  applied research projects with the FAA.”

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Photo:  Top photo (L to R) shows Dr. Michel Hovan, Gary Mitchell, Jerry Voigt, Dr. Peter Taylor, Gordon Smith, Jim Mack, Leif Wathne, and Jeff Gagnon at the Hughes Technical Center. The photo below shows one of two accelerated load facilities at the FAA’s research center.  Mitchell explained the two ALF machines are capable of simulating wheel loads of virtually any fixed wing aircraft in the US fleet. The machine shown also allows testing under various climatic conditions.

*  The Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) is a provision first included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP 21).  This ACPA-led initiative created both a mechanism and funding for the delivery of pavement technology.  In 2015, Congress included the program in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which provides funding through 2020.

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Task Force and Committees Cover Timely Issues

ACPA’s Mid-Year Meeting continued into the second day with meetings of the Roller Compacted Concrete, Airports, Pavement Design, and Jointing task forces, as well as meetings of the Legislative Issues Committee (LIC) and Strategic Advisory Committee (SAC).

During the LIC meeting, Dave Bauer, President and CEO of ARTBA, presented remarks about the Federal-aid highway program, including hopeful signs of a bill being introduced this summer, funding challenges and other details. The LIC meeting also included a spirited “heads or tails” game that served as an innovative and fun-filled fundraising activity. 

One of several highlights of the SAC meeting was a discussion about aligning standing committees with markets and better aligning the committees with staff focus.  Several options were discussed and meeting participants had the opportunity to share suggestions and other comments. 

Further discussion will continue over the next few months as the concept is further refined.  “No specific decision was made,” says Jerry Voigt, ACPA President & CEO, adding, “A general direction was provided, along with the goal that SAC will have a firm proposal for ACPA board at the annual meeting.”

Look for additional information about the ACPA Mid-Year Meeting in our June 19th issue of ACPA TODAY. 

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Photo: Greg Mulder, Iowa Concrete Paving Association (left) and Jeffrey McKnight, Buzzi Unicem USA, share a laugh during the “heads or tails” game at the LIC meeting.

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AASHTO Spring Meeting Hints at Changing Roles

ACPA participated in the AASHTO Spring Meeting last week, and Leif Wathne and Scott Mueller tag-teamed to participate in the four-day meeting.

One of the key focal points of the meeting was AASHTO’s highway reauthorization priorities, with funding and program stability topping the list. 

As part of the May 20th through 23th meeting in Park City, UT, the state transportation officials also held the Council on Highways and Streets. One of the major discussions focused on the changing roles of chief engineers and other officials who must increasingly address issues that go beyond historical highway-centric issues. Examples include multimodal transportation, drones, transit issues, and the changing functions of highways (which increasingly incorporate rapidly-evolving technology and communications features).

During the AASHTO Innovation Initiative session, Tom Harman, Director of the FHWA’s Center for Innovation, presented on the culture of innovation.  As part of his presentation (developed in part with input from Dan Rozycki with the Transtec Group), Harman asked Leif Wathne to share both details and insights regarding ACPA’s VISION2040 initiative.  A one-page overview about the VISION2040 effort was shared with the meeting attendees.   
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Blumenauer Urges Industry to Keep Momentum Going

ACPA participated in the Infrastructure Working Group (IWG) meeting last week.  Hosted by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) the meeting was held Thursday in Washington, DC.

Featured speaker Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), encouraged participants to keep the momentum going in advocacy efforts aimed at highway and other infrastructure investment. 

Blumenauer recently unveiled a bill that would increase federal fuel taxes by 5 cents per gallon every year for five years. The bill also calls for indexing the tax to allow for adjustments; leveraging the proceeds; and eventually replacing it with a different funding mechanism. Congressman Blumenauer is a senior member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and a champion for infrastructure modernization.

Other highlights from the meeting include an observation that “Buy America” will be an area of interest in next bill. Stakeholder groups also observed that “Infrastructure Week,” which was aimed at increasing awareness and support for infrastructure investment and safety, was very successful.

There was also good support of last week’s TCC fly-in, as well as discussions about the need for strong leadership and support from the White House in order to move meaningful infrastructure funding measures forward in Congress.

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Photo source: US Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s website.

Highlights of the TCC Fly-In

As reported previously in ACPA TODAY, the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) Annual Fly-In was held May 13 through 15 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC.  The event was held in conjunction with the ARTBA Federal Issues Program.

Keynote speakers included FHWA Administrator Nicole R. Nason, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee. 

ACPA Chairman Jim Mack of CEMEX, and Leif Wathne, ACPA Executive Vice President, attended the fly-in ahead of the ACPA Chapter Committee meeting. 

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