In one of the latest efforts to support the concrete pavement industry during the current pandemic crisis, ACPA has proposed several actions to the FHWA.
In a message to Alex Etchen, FHWA Associate Administrator for Highway Policy and External Affairs, ACPA offers four suggestions that could address COVID-19 related health and economic issues impacted contractors and others in the industry. The full text of the message, penned by Leif Wathne, follows below:
- Issue FHWA guidance that clearly and unambiguously classifies highway construction workers as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” under the CISA memorandum. Additional FHWA guidance in this regard can be helpful in ensuring that vitally important highway construction work continues. As underscored by all our transportation stakeholders, maintaining the transportation construction sector is vital to our nation’s ability to continue delivering needed medical supplies, food and goods, clean water and energy to the American people as we address this pandemic.
- Issue FHWA guidance that makes clear that relief funds under the CARES Act are eligible for reimbursement of costs incurred by highway contractors to protect their workers by adhering to the CDC-recommended social distancing guidance during the pandemic while continuing critically important infrastructure construction functions (e.g. such items as increased per diem, additional site vehicles, enhanced PPE, added hand washing stations, additional jobsite toilets, etc.). Contractors are fully committed to workforce safety and adhering to U.S. Government social distancing guidance during these unprecedented times comes at additional, unanticipated costs, and should therefore be explicitly eligible for reimbursement.
- FHWA should issue guidance to suspend state/local match requirement on federal aid projects (i.e. 100% federal Share) for a two-year period to allow the federal investment to be put to work without delay, as state/local budget revenue losses will threaten their ability to meet any state/local match requirement. Such a suspension of state/local match requirements will allow the federal investment to be put to work more quickly, putting our ranks of unemployed to work in a matter of weeks, rather than years. This will be especially important if federal recovery legislation (Phase 4 or later) includes a substantial increase in infrastructure investment, as state DOTs would not be able in a position to meet the state match requirement.
- FHWA should issue guidance that encourages state DOTs to increase flexibility in contracting mechanisms employed during this crisis (e.g. design-build and other innovative contracting mechanisms). Such flexibility will enable states to accelerate lettings and construction projects so more people are again put to work more quickly. This will be especially important if federal recovery legislation includes a substantial increase in infrastructure investment, as state DOTs are not currently staffed to handle such an increase in workload in a timely manner.
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