Tuesday, October 27, 2015

UAPA Executive Director Message October 2015

Although leaves are falling and days are getting shorter, there seems to be plenty of work to get done before the first snowflakes fall in November and December.  Part of that work for UAPA involves preparing and planning for the 2015 Southern Utah Seminar happening on
November 17th at the Dixie Center in St. George.  The Seminar this year will deliver on great educational topics from the importance of tack coats in pavement construction to a review of maintenance options and applications available for your road.  You can find out more or you can register for the Seminar HERE.  CE Credits will be available for each of the four breakout sessions.
In looking back, October was yet another month full of meetings for the association.  In addition to our regularly scheduled committee meetings (Board, Executive Committee, Technical Committee, Membership Committee, and Operations Committee) the month quickly passed with additional meetings to review and recommend changes to the APWA Specifications for the next construction season and a great partnering meeting with the LDS Church for a review of their asphalt pavement specifications.  Much of this work is ongoing, but it is wonderful to see true partnerships and friendships grow through UAPA and these organizations.
In the next few days UAPA will also be headed up to the University of Utah to hold our first-ever Asphalt Seminar with students from the Civil Engineering Department at the university.  This event promises to be a great relationship building avenue, as we continue to seed the UAPA Scholarship Fund through events such as our golf tournament and asphalt conference.  
Of course, the month of October would not be complete without UAPA’s attendance at the APWA Fall Conference and Annual UDOT Conference.  Both of these venues have proved valuable in building new connections while helping to spread the word to some of our biggest supporters about all of the good work UAPA continues to do.  This includes participating in another productive and informative UDOT-UAPA Quarterly meeting held a little earlier this month.
As always, here’s to hoping that end of the month and construction season brings us lots of treats and no tricks!  Thanks for all you do for industry and for this association.
Best regards,
Reed Ryan

UAPA Executive Director

Monday, October 26, 2015

Highway Bill Takes Major Step Forward After Bipartisan Vote by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

On Oct. 22, 2015, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee unanimously approved H.R. 3763, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act of 2015, to reauthorize and reform Federal-aid highways and highway safety programs. The overwhelming bipartisan support reflected in a voice vote in favor of the bill came after lawmakers expressed the need to pass a fiscally responsible program that sustains America’s infrastructure. “I am proud that we were able to work together and find a commom ground on this important bipartisan legsislation” said T&I Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).  A quick summary of the legislation can be found here.
While the STRR Act brings our industry closer to securing a multi-year highway bill, the measure lacks the funding necessary to provide the long-term certainty needed to create a system that promotes safety and greater mobility. The $325 billion legislation provides six-years of contract authortiy with only three years of baseline funding, $16 billion below the spending levels assumed in the Senate-passed DRIVE Act. The allocation of the $325 billion is: $261 billion or highways, $55 billion for transit and $9 billion for national highway safety efforts.

Total New Highway Funding under House and Senate Bills
(in millions)

House Bill
Senate Bill

As a result, NAPA and industry stakeholders sent letters to the T&I Committee prior to the markup congratulating them on reaching an agreement to reauthorize the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), but expressing concerns with the inadequate funding levels in the legislation, specifically that current investment levels do not allow state transportation departments and the transportation construction industry to plan for long-term, large-scale highway improvement projects.
In regards to the HTF reauthorization timeline, there is no fixed schedule for the full House to take up the measure before the HTF expires on Oct. 29, making it apparent that Congress will be forced to enact yet another short-term extension. Hill staff has indicated that moving the legislation off the House floor and into conference remains a top priority, where both the House and Senate will hash out the funding mechanisms to support the $32 billion necessary for FY 2016-2018.
NAPA professional staff will gain more clarity after the Highway Coalitions meeting on Monday, Oct. 26 with Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Chief Deputy Whip McHenry (R-N.C.) , and Chairman Shuster (R-Pa.) to discuss the path forward on a long-term highway funding solution.
STRR Act Takeaways
  • Approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Oct. 22, 2015.
  • Create a new competitive grant program, the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program, funded at $743 million annually.
  • Allows up to $500 million in the program to be used for rail freight projects paid for out of the HTF - Transportation Construct Coalition Letter opposing the provision
  • Reduce TIFIA from $1 billion annually to $200 million, while lowering the threshold for projects from $50 million to $10 million.
  • Reauthorizes the Accelerated Implementation and  Deployment of Asphalt Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) program at $6 million annually. 
  • Provide grants to states to demonstrate user-based alternative revenue mechanisms that use a user fee structure to maintain solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
  • Two pavement amendments added to the legislation: "Innovative Materials" and "Highway Durability/Sustainability Study." 
This article has been provided by NAPA