The CEOs of the five leading transportation construction materials trade associations met by conference call yesterday to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the surface transportation construction industry.
Jerry Voigt of ACPA; Audrey Copeland of NAPA; Mike Philips of NRMCA; Mike Johnson of NSSGA; and Mike Ireland of PCA discussed key priorities, with COVID-19 responses and economic impacts being the focal points.
The CEOs expressed some optimism regarding relief funding. This optimism is based, in part, on an AASHTO request to Congressional leaders to enact a six-year, $800+ billion surface transportation reauthorization bill to “finally put us on the path to eliminate [the] longstanding investment backlog by the end of this decade while meeting arising asset condition and performance needs to support and sustain our multiyear economic recovery and growth.” AASHTO also presented an almost $50 billion “backstop” funding request to replace lost state revenues and for use to avoid disruptions in transportation systems.
On the subject of relief funding for surface transportation construction, the discussion centered on ensuring construction remains an “essential” activity and continuing this advocacy effort with state governors. A second key point is to advocate for transportation construction as an important element of economic recovery. The CEOs discussed key points in the area of stimulus, including:
- Appropriate and respectful timing of advocacy efforts in relation to the many other pressing issues of the pandemic.
- Securing the requisite federal funding to jump start the economy and address critical needs.
- Removing the state match for a period of time to address lost state gas tax revenue and other tax revenue that supports state transportation funding.
- Allowing states more flexibility to out-source design and have fewer permitting hurdles for highway projects so they can push out jobs and get people to work.
- Safety for the men, women and companies working in the field and at manufacturing plants. “With regard to roadway paving, we need our state and federal partners to understand we are going to have added costs associated with ‘social distancing’ while continuing to deliver our work, Jerry says.
The associations each have been working to address health & human safety issues for the industry and their respective organizations. This involves factoring the challenges contractors, cement and ready mixed concrete producers, mining companies and other members are facing with ensuring the safety and health of their employees in the workplace.
The CEOs also agreed that during the pandemic crisis and associated economic impact period, the industry should set aside certain lobbying efforts at both the national and local level.
The CEOs agreed to continue discussions, with the next conference call set for two weeks.