Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Executive Director Message August 2016

What Happened to Summer?
I recently read an interesting scientific article where the authors contend that how we experience time changes as we get older. In essence, they took what we all seem to feel, that time goes by faster the older you get, and put it into quantifiable meaning via science and math. Their conclusion, we do indeed experience time differently the older we get because we get used to repetitive experiences so our senses do not need to or want to slow down as much to experience things we have been through before. It’s like how the drive out to somewhere always seems longer than the drive back. That’s why summers tend to fly by now, but when we were kids they seemed to last forever! 
Now that I have lost just about everybody, I tend to think the authors’ thesis to be true because there is no doubt about it, August flew by for the association! Together we successfully hosted the 5th Annual UAPA Golf Classic at Mountain Dell on the 17th (see below). Later this month we’ll partner with the Utah Chapter of the APWA to host a lunch and learn event, “What to Expect When Inspecting” at the Gathering Place in West Jordan. And we continue to meet with UDOT on a host of specifications that range from longitudinal joints to smoothness. Add it all up, and you get a recipe for success in building UAPA’s legacy as a willing partner and force for good in our industry. 
Adding to everything that happened in August, earlier this month I was in Iowa at a conference for state asphalt execs from across the country. Each time I attend this event I’m continually amazed at the work put in by state associations across the country. I often leave this conference feeling that UAPA has so far yet to go (which is true!), but then I get days like I have had the rest of this month where the association is out making connections for people, discussing important and upcoming changes to key specifications, and raising a little bit of money for great causes in our community. Small things when taken on an individual account, but when compiled together, I see a work that is moving forward for the betterment of our industry. We stand on the shoulder of giants who have come before, and we lost a great one this month in the passing of Mont Wilson, but we are carving out something entirely new for our association and its making a difference. Thank you for your support!
In the weeks in months ahead we will be hosting additional lunch and learn events, traveling to St. George for our Southern Utah Asphalt Seminar (SUAS), and out to the Uintah Basin for our Uintah Basin Asphalt Summit (UBAS). We’ll also work hard on continued specification improvement, and hopefully be able to lay some serious groundwork for an impactful Asphalt Inspector Certification Program. I’ve said it before, but I will say it again here. If you are not a part of UAPA, you should be. We need your expertise and talents in contributing to all the association is doing in all of these areas. Special thanks to all of those members who continue to give so much!
-Reed Ryan
UAPA Executive Director

Monday, August 22, 2016

Act Now! Tell Your Member of Congress to Fix the Highway Trust Fund's Fiscal Dilemma

The enactment of the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act,” or FAST Act, in December 2015 provided a needed—albeit temporary—stabilization of federal highway and public transportation investment.  Unfortunately, once the FAST Act expires in October 2020, the Highway Trust Fund revenue shortfalls that plagued surface transportation investment and forced multiple short-term program extensions over the last nine years will return.  Due to the inability to provide a permanent revenue stream for the Highway Trust Fund, Congress and the last two presidential administrations shifted $143 billion from elsewhere in the federal budget to preserve highway and public transit funding.  Without a real permanent solution before the FAST Act expires, Congress will once again be forced to choose between devastating investment cuts or more temporary bailouts.
Republicans on the tax-writing House Ways & Means Committee rolled out a “blueprint” to rewrite the nation’s tax code in late June.  While this plan includes much to commend, it does not address the Highway Trust Fund’s fiscal dilemma.  It is important to note that over the last 30 years all enhancements to the trust fund’s revenue stream have come as part of broad tax or budget packages. 
Tell Your Member of Congress to Fix the Highway Trust Fund's Fiscal Dilemma
Requested Action
The House Ways & Means Committee Republicans view their blueprint as the beginning of a conversation on tax reform and want to hear from all Americans.  The transportation construction industry should tell all members of Congress that stabilizing and growing federal surface transportation investment must be a component of any pro-growth tax reform proposal.  Please tell your members of Congress:
  • I agree with the group of 130 bipartisan House members who wrote to Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) in May that a permanent Highway Trust Fund solution should be part of any tax reform plan and that all options should be on the table to rectify this situation once and for all.
  • If Congress does not act, the Highway Trust Fund will face annual revenue shortfalls of $18 billion once the FAST Act expires.
  • Congress has a narrow window to address this situation before states will once again be forced to begin delaying projects due to uncertainty about future federal funds.
  • Please urge the Ways & Means Committee to enhance their tax reform blueprint by including a permanent Highway Trust Fund revenue solution.
Send a Letter to Your Member of Congress Today! 
In addition to delivering these messages to your members of Congress, please work with your state organization to submit written comments directly to the House Ways & Means Committee that echo these points, and also describe your state’s unique transportation challenges and the importance of a permanent Highway Trust Fund fix for your state’s economy.  This state-specific information can be found here. The Committee is requesting comments at, by Wednesday, August 31.
For more information on how to schedule a plan tour, request an in-district meeting or to attend a town hall meeting, vistit the NAPA Grassroots Action Center or contact Ashley Jackson.

NCAT Announces Four New Researchers

The National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) at Auburn University welcomes Dr. Adriana Vargas-Nordcbeck, Dr. Fabricio Leiva-Villacorta, Dr. Fan Gu, and Dr. Fan Yin to their research team.

Dr. Adriana Vargas-Nordcbeck, an Auburn alumna, is joining NCAT in August as an assistant research professor. Adriana comes to Auburn from the University of Costa Rica and their national infrastructure lab, Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales (LANAMME). She will lead all pavement preservation experiments and pursue new projects related to pavement management and pavement preservation in addition to teaching select civil engineering courses.

Dr. Fabricio Leiva-Villacorta will be joining NCAT in August as an assistant research professor. Fabricio is an Auburn University alumnus and was a graduate assistant at NCAT before working at LANAMME with his wife, Dr. Adriana Vargas-Nordcbeck. Fabricio will lead research on using recycled materials in asphalt pavements, multi-scale pavement analysis, teach civil engineering materials courses, and instruct segments of NCAT training courses for the asphalt pavement industry.

Dr. Fan Gu will be joining NCAT in September as a postdoctoral researcher. Dr. Gu received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southeast University in China. He served as a postdoctoral research associate at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) after receiving his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Texas A&M University. Dr. Gu will lead research regarding rolling resistance, cold central plant recycling (CCPR) and cold in-place recycling (CIR), assist numerous ongoing studies, and instruct segments of NCAT training courses.

Dr. Fan Yin joined the NCAT staff in July as a postdoctoral researcher. Dr. Yin earned his bachelor’s degree in transportation engineering from Southeast University in China and moved to the United States in 2010. He received his master’s degree and Ph.D. at Texas A&M University and worked as a graduate research assistant at TTI. Dr. Yin is working on the cracking group experiments led by NCAT and the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s MnROAD facility. One of his initial assignments is to recommend a long-term aging protocol for lab and plant produced asphalt mixtures prior to cracking tests. He is also working on analysis of cracking tests, cost effectiveness of premium mixtures, and porous asphalt pavements.