Four More States Set to Increase Gas Taxes to Support New Transportation Investments; New Analysis Shows Little Political Fallout

TIAC Logo91 % of legislators who supported an increased gas tax were reelected during the next general election; 98 % of lawmakers won their 2016 primary race

(WASHINGTON) – An examination of more than 2,500 state legislators from 16 states finds 91 percent of lawmakers who supported legislation to increase their state gas tax between 2013 and 2015 and ran for re-election won their seat during the next general election.

The analysis, from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (TIAC), comes as legislators in four states—Tennessee, Montana, California and Indiana—have voted this month to increase their state gas tax to support new transportation improvements. The respective governors of each state are expected to sign the measures. It brings to 21 the number of states that have increased fuel taxes since 2013.

For Republican state legislators who supported a gas tax increase, 95 percent were reelected, the same reelection rate as those officials who voted against the gas tax increase. Democrats who voted for a gas tax increase were reelected at 89 percent, compared to 86 percent who voted against the same legislation.

“The voters in these states understand that lawmakers are showing political will to increase resources for transportation investment. For the majority of these states, their gas tax had not been raised in over 15 years,” said ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black. “It is now up to Congress and the Trump administration to address the stability of the Highway Trust Fund, which provides revenue for over half of all state highway program capital outlays.”

More than 91 percent of legislators who sponsored bills to increase their state gas tax were also reelected.

Additional analysis of the 2016 primary elections in the eight states that passed a gas tax increase in 2015 found that 98 percent of Republican and 98 percent of Democratic lawmakers who approved a gas tax increase and ran for their seat in a primary race moved on to the general election, compared to 97 percent of legislators who had voted “no” on the gas tax increase.
Read the full report.

Established in 2014, TIAC is a first-of-its kind, dynamic education program and Internet-based information resource designed to help private citizens, legislators, organizations and businesses successfully grow transportation investment at the state and local levels through the legislative and ballot initiative processes. Visit the website, www.transportationinvestment.org.

“Waters of the United States” Rule Fundamentally Flawed, ARTBA Tells Senate Committee

(WASHINGTON)—The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) April 26 told a U.S. Senate panel the controversial “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule is scientifically and legally flawed and should be repealed.

In comments submitted for an Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing, the association said the WOTUS rule threatens recent bipartisan achievements in reducing transportation project delays, noting “[a]ny reduction in delay gained from improvements to the project delivery process would likely be negated by the increased permitting requirements and opportunities for litigation caused by the WOTUS rule’s expansion of federal jurisdiction.”

At issue is how EPA is attempting to redefine what collections of water constitute the “waters of the United States” and are therefore subject to federal authority.  Before the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its new rule, ARTBA told the agency on several occasions that “roadside ditches are not, and should not be regulated as, traditional jurisdictional wetlands as they are not connected water bodies and they contribute to the public health and safety of the nation by dispersing water from roadways.” The rule, however, did not categorically exempt roadside ditches from federal jurisdiction.  Instead, the EPA ruled a litany of qualifications must be met before a roadside ditch can be deemed exempt from federal permitting requirements.

The association’s comments to the EPW Committee noted such a piecemeal approach would add another layer of burdensome permitting requirements, create confusion and increase permitting delays for transportation projects.  The new rule, it said, would also likely be used as a litigation tool to delay projects and, in the process, make them more expensive for taxpayers.

ARTBA is currently involved in federal litigation over the WOTUS rule, which has been stayed by a federal court of appeals.  President Donald Trump has directed the EPA to repeal the WOTUS rule, an effort which ARTBA supports.

Established in 1902, ARTBA represents the U.S. transportation construction industry before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, courts, news media and general public.

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“Drivers, Work Zone Safety Is in Your Hands,” ARTBA Foundation Says

#NWZAW: April 4 Kick-Off in Md. for 18th Annual Week Coincides with Unofficial Start of Construction Season

(WASHINGTON)—Imagine your office work space literally within feet of traffic whizzing by you at 60 miles per hour or more. That’s the situation facing road construction workers every day on transportation improvement projects all across America.

As part of the 18th annual National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) held April 3-7, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Foundation is calling on drivers to stay off their mobile devices, slow down, and pay close to attention to nearby road workers when traveling through these construction zones.

Nearly 700 people, including 130 workers, are killed annually in roadway work zone accidents. More than 35,000 people are injured in these sites.

The 18th annual event under the theme, “Work Zone Safety Is In Your Hands,” officially kicks off with an April 4 (10:30 a.m.) event hosted by the Maryland State Highway Administration at the Georgia Ave./Randolph Rd., interchange in Silver Spring, Md.

The annual NWZAW urges motorists to “Drive Toward Zero Crashes,” which means:

  • Read and follow work zone signs;
  • Pay attention to other drivers;
  • Stay focused, and avoid distractions such as mobile devices;
  • Expect the unexpected, try to anticipate problems; and
  • Keep your cool. Be patient.

The ARTBA Foundation’s National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse (www.workzonesafety.org), is also available as a valuable resource for stakeholders interested in learning more about the safety risks and hazards with road construction zones.

The facility, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, handles more than 200,000 requests annually, can help users find information on: accident and crash data, flagging, emerging technologies and equipment, best practices, key safety experts, laws and regulations, safety standards, research publications, training videos and programs, and successful public education campaigns. Materials are available in Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, French, Russian, and Arabic.

The ARTBA Foundation also noted the late 2016 launch of another groundbreaking initiative aimed at improving motorist and worker safety. The Safety Certification for Transportation Project ProfessionalsTM (SCTPP) program features this vision: “To ensure the safety and well-being of construction workers, motorists, truck drivers, pedestrians and cyclists and their families by making transportation project sites worldwide zero-incident zones.”

To learn more about the SCTPP, visit: www.puttingsafetyfirst.org.

For information about the Work Zone Clearinghouse operations, contact ARTBA Senior Vice President of Safety Brad Sant or ARTBA Vice President of Safety & Environmental Compliance Una Connolly at 202.289.4434.

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Major Economic & Job Creation Boost Expected from Kansas Highway & Bridge Infrastructure Increase

(WASHINGTON) A new report finds that an annual $264 million increase in state highway and bridge infrastructure investment would support nearly $600 million in economic activity throughout all sectors of the Kansas economy. The additional demand, in turn, would also support or create 5,000 jobs—with over half being in sectors outside of the construction industry.

The analysis, conducted by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black shows how the impacts of transportation capital investments trigger immediate economic activity, including cost savings for drivers, and new and sustained jobs, while yielding long-lived capital assets that facilitate economic activity for decades to come.

Black testified March 23 before a Kansas state legislature hearing about the report’s findings. The study was commissioned by the Kansas Contractors Association.

An annual investment level of $264 million is consistent with an increase in the state motor fuel tax of about 15 cents per gallon, which would cost the average driver about $5 to $10 a month, or less than 20 to 40 cents per day, but would help businesses increase output, grow the tax base and support jobs across all major sectors of the state economy, Black said.

The improvement in the state’s transportation network would include enhanced safety, lower operating costs, reduced congestion and an increase in both mobility and efficiency, ARTBA said.

In addition, Black’s analysis reveals that increased investment would:

  • Generate $594.3 million in additional economic output;
  • Increase gross state product (GSP) by nearly $304 million;
  • Grow state and local tax revenues by $29.4 million; and
  • Support or create an additional 5,308 jobs, with 52 percent of the employment outside of the construction industry, including an estimated 549 jobs in retail trade, 330 jobs in manufacturing and 321 jobs in health care and social assistance

Research shows that the economic return for every $1 invested in transportation infrastructure improvements can range up to $5.20. For drivers in Kansas, this could add up to as much as $1.3 billion in savings, not including the additional benefits of improving access to critical facilities like schools and hospitals or increases in business productivity, Black says.

More than 660,000 Kansas jobs in tourism, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, agriculture and forestry, mining, retailing and wholesaling alone are fully dependent on the work done by the state’s transportation construction industry. These dependent industries provide a total payroll of $25.2 billion and their employees contribute $4.6 billion annually in state and federal payroll taxes, the ARTBA report found.

The annual $264 million investment would help restore some of the recent cuts to the Kansas highway program. The Kansas state legislature will have diverted about $3.5 billion from the state Highway Fund to the General Fund and other state agencies between FY 2011 and FY 2019 for non-transportation purposes. These diversions have had a significant market impact, Black said, delaying over $600 million in road projects because of a lack of funds and resulting in the loss of 3,000 construction jobs.

If the diverted funds were instead invested in highway and bridge projects, the construction work would generate $7.8 billion in economic activity throughout all sectors of the economy and provide an additional $4 billion in state GSP, the association said.

Read the full report: www.artba.org/economics/research/.

Since 1902, ARTBA has been the “consensus voice” of the U.S. transportation design and construction industry before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, news media and the general public.

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ARTBA Foundation Announces Latest Group to Earn Transportation Project Safety Certification

(WASHINGTON)—Fourteen additional people earned the “Safety Certification for Transportation Project Professionals™” (SCTPP) credential last month, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Foundation announced today. This is on top of the 55 in the “inaugural class” announced in late January. The certification is valid for three years.

Launched in late 2016, the SCTPP program is aimed at the thousands of transportation project workers, supervisors, foremen, inspectors, managers, manufacturers and materials suppliers, designers, equipment operators and owners who could make a huge, industry-wide safety impact by learning core competencies necessary to identify and mitigate potentially life-threatening on-site risks.

“Our goal is to help cause a demonstrable reduction in the number of deaths and injuries that occur on and around transportation project sites each year,” ARTBA President Pete Ruane said. “We believe we can do that if all of the key decision makers, from project inception through completion, have safety top of mind. This program identifies and rewards those who have competency in this critical management area.”

The newest “Safety Certified Transportation Project Professionals” are:

  • Adam Hill, safety coordinator, Road-Con Inc., West Chester, Pa.
  • Bruce Drewes, instructional consultant, 3T Group, Boise, Idaho
  • Doug Schultz, president, Herlihy Mid-Continent Company, Romeoville, Ill.
  • Edward Mays, field safety coordinator, Barriere Construction LLC, Metairie, La.
  • Francis B. Maline, project safety manager, Lane Construction, Westchester, Ill.
  • Jose Manzano, safety inspector, CW Roberts Contracting, Tallahassee, Fla.
  • Joseph Landino, safety director, Ajax Paving Industries, Inc., Troy, Mich.
  • Justin Templet, safety & claims coordinator, Barrierre Construction, Metairie, La.
  • Keith Clay, safety manager, John R. Jurgensen Company, Hamilton, Ohio
  • Matt Lunzman, superintendent, Hawkins Construction, Lincoln, Neb.
  • Robert Medina, safety officer, Hellman Electric Corporation, Bronx, N.Y.
  • Russell McElroy, senior safety supervisor, Lane Construction, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Steven Ward, safety director, Advanced Workzone Services LLC, Muskogee, Okla.
  • Tim Beguin, corporate safety director, Wiregrass Construction Co., Decatur, Ala.

The two-and-a-half hour exam contains up to 120 multiple-choice questions that probe knowledge in: assessing project risks; creating project safety plans; implementing and conducting on-going evaluation of a site-specific operational safety plan; and conducting incident investigations. It has been designed to meet the rigorous protocols required for accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization for Standardization ISO/IEC 17024: “Conformity Assessment: General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons.”

The ARTBA Foundation also said that the six courses available via its Online Learning Center (OLC) are increasingly being utilized to help people prep for the exam

Additional information about the SCTPP credential and the OLC can be accessed at: www.puttingsafetyfirst.org.

The ARTBA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity established in 1985, supports a wide portfolio of research, education and public awareness programs and activities aimed at highlighting the importance of U.S. transportation investment.

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ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane Statement on President Trump’s Address to Congress

(WASHINGTON) – American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane issued the following statement:

 

“When it comes to infrastructure, strategic focus should be the key.

“The biggest return on investment would be found by modernizing America’s Economic Expressway—the Interstate System and its connections to the nation’s major ports, inland waterways, rail hubs, airports and pipelines. Right now it is woefully underperforming, costing every American citizen and business time and money.

“Investing in America’s Economic Expressway would create tens of thousands of jobs in every state, increase our competitiveness, and make long-term improvements to our nation’s economy.”

Since 1902,  ARTBA has been the “consensus voice” of the U.S. transportation design and construction industry before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, news media and the general public.

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Trump Executive Order on Waters of the U.S. Rule Beneficial to Transportation Permitting Process, ARTBA Says

(WASHINGTON)— President Trump’s Feb. 28 executive order directing the withdrawal of the controversial “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule removes an unnecessary obstacle that would have delayed transportation improvement projects, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) says.

At issue for the transportation construction industry is how the Obama Administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempted to redefine what collections of water constitute the WOTUS and are therefore subject to federal authority.  Before EPA issued the rule, ARTBA told the agency on multiple occasions that “roadside ditches are not, and should not be regulated as, traditional jurisdictional wetlands as they are not connected water bodies and they contribute to the public health and safety of the nation by dispersing water from roadways.”

The rule, however, did not categorically exempt roadside ditches from federal jurisdiction. Instead, the EPA, in a regulatory overreach, decided a litany of qualifications must be met before a roadside ditch can be deemed exempt from federal permitting requirements.

ARTBA explained to EPA such a piecemeal approach would add another layer of burdensome permitting requirements, create confusion and increase permitting delays for transportation projects.  The WOTUS rule, the association said, would also likely be used as a litigation tool to delay projects and, in the process, make them more expensive for taxpayers.

Subsequently, ARTBA, in addition to numerous other trade associations and state governments, sought relief from the federal courts.  As a result of that litigation, the WOTUS rule was stayed nationwide.

It’s unclear how the Feb. 28 executive order will impact future federal court proceedings.  The association said it plans to work with EPA Administrator Pruitt to craft a new rule that strikes the proper balance between necessary regulatory protection and the nation’s infrastructure needs.

Established in 1902, ARTBA is the transportation construction industry’s “consensus voice” on environmental and regulatory matters in the Nation’s Capital.

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ARTBA Urges House Committee to Reform Clean Air Act Standards

(WASHINGTON)— Citing federal government data showing a significant reduction in air pollutants since 1990 at the same time the U.S. economy continued to grow, vehicle miles traveled jumped significantly, and energy use increased, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Feb. 16 called on Congress to overhaul the method by which the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) sets National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The CAA was last amended in 1990.

In a statement submitted for a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing on modernizing environmental laws, ARTBA said: “Overall, the Environmental Protection Agency must reform the manner in which it reviews NAAQS.  Local officials need some sense of predictability in order to develop long-range transportation plans to achieve emissions reduction goals.  In many instances, counties are focusing on addressing existing NAAQS and any additional changes to the standards are akin to moving the goalposts in the middle of the game.”

ARTBA noted unduly stringent standards can actually impede transportation projects that are aimed at reducing congestion and improving air quality from moving forward. Such improvements will not be realized if projects cannot go forward.  “A complete analysis of potential NAAQS revisions should include the effects of the potential for increased unemployment, reduced congestion relief and weakened public safety,” ARTBA said.

The association also addressed flaws with the existing “transportation conformity” process, which governs how counties comply with CAA standards.

“The problem with the existing conformity process is caused by the fact that some have tried to turn these determinations into an exact science, when they are not.  Rather, conformity findings are based on assumptions and ‘modeling of future events,’ not often reflecting reality.  Very few conformity lapses occur because a region has a major clean air problem.  They occur because one of the parties involved cannot meet a particular deadline.  Thus, the conformity process has become a top-heavy bureaucratic exercise that puts more emphasis on ‘crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s’ than on engaging the public in true transportation planning that is good for the environment and the mobility of a region’s population,” the ARTBA statement said.

Established in 1902, ARTBA is the U.S. transportation construction industry’s “consensus voice” on regulatory and environmental matters.

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Endangered Species Act Needs Targeted Reforms, ARTBA Tells Senate Panel

(WASHINGTON)—The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Feb. 15 told a U.S. Senate panel the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) “critical habitat” provision should be replaced with a “less expansive habitat preservation system that focuses on preserving essential species habitat without imposing unnecessary and excessive restrictions on development.”

The ESA was originally passed in 1973 and hasn’t been amended for nearly 30 years.  In a statement submitted to a Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee oversight hearing entitled, “Modernization of the Endangered Species Act,” ARTBA noted the proper “determination of critical habitat is a very important issue for state and local governments, as well as businesses located in areas impacted by ESA activity.  A determination of critical habitat can literally remove hundreds of miles from the possibility of any type of development.”

ARTBA pointed to the impacts of the law on infrastructure projects.  “The ESA is a valuable tool in helping to deliver transportation projects in a manner that is most beneficial to both the environment and the communities served by those projects,” ARTBA said. In its current state, however, the ESA has achieved less than a 1 percent rate of success for species recovery.  At the same time, it has resulted in multi-year delays for transportation construction projects.”

In other recommendations, the association said Congress should:

  • Establish a standard to define the “best available” scientific data in decisions concerning endangered or threatened species. This standard should provide for independent peer review of all ESA determinations.
  • Reform the species listing process to discourage listing of species not actually threatened. Specifically, species should not be able to be listed based on potential threats, only actual impacts. Also, the de-listing process should be streamlined to allow for easier removal of species once they are no longer threatened.
  • Curb unnecessary ESA litigation by disallowing litigation based on possible development occurring as the result of a proposed transportation project. Only disputes involving the effects of the potential project itself should be considered.

Established in 1902, ARTBA represents the U.S. transportation construction industry before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, courts, news media and general public.

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Nearly 56,000 American Bridges on Structurally Deficient List, New Analysis of Federal Data Shows

Data Available: www.artbabridgereport.org

 Highlights:  

  • List includes: Brooklyn & Throgs Neck (N.Y.), Yankee Doodle (Conn.), Memorial (Va.-DC) and Greensboro (N.C.) Bridges.
  • 1,900 structurally deficient bridges are on the Interstate Highway System.
  • Average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 67 years old, compared to 39 years for non-deficient bridges.
  • 41% of U.S. bridges (250,406) are over 40 years old and have not had major reconstruction work.
  • Website features listing of deficient bridges by state and congressional district.

 

(WASHINGTON)—The length of the nation’s structurally deficient bridges if placed end-to-end would stretch 1,276 miles, half the distance from New York to Los Angeles, a new examination of federal government data shows. It’s a problem that hits close to home.

An analysis of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) recently-released 2016 National Bridge Inventory data finds cars, trucks and school buses cross the nation’s 55,710 structurally compromised bridges 185 million times daily.  About 1,900 are on the Interstate Highway System. State transportation departments have identified 13,000 Interstate bridges that need replacement, widening or major reconstruction.

The inventory of structurally deficient bridges has declined 0.5 percent since the 2015 report. At that pace, it would take more than two decades to replace or repair all of them, according to American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who conducted the analysis.

Black says the data shows 28 percent of bridges (173,919) are over 50 years old and have never had any major reconstruction work in that time.

“America’s highway network is woefully underperforming. It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization,” Black says. “State and local transportation departments haven’t been provided the resources to keep pace with the nation’s bridge needs.”

To help ensure public safety, bridge decks and support structures are regularly inspected for deterioration and remedial action. They are rated on a scale of zero to nine—with nine meaning the bridge is in “excellent” condition.  A bridge is classified as structurally deficient and in need of repair if its overall rating is four or below.

While these bridges may not be imminently unsafe, they are in need of attention.

Other key findings in the ARTBA analysis:

  • Iowa (4,968), Pennsylvania (4,506), Oklahoma (3,460), Missouri (3,195), Nebraska (2,361), Illinois (2,243), Kansas (2,151), Mississippi (2,098), Ohio (1,942) and New York (1,928) have the most structurally deficient bridges. The District of Columbia (9), Nevada (31), Delaware (43), Hawaii (64) and Utah (95) have the least.
  • At least 15 percent of the bridges in eight states—Rhode Island (25 percent), Iowa (21 percent), Pennsylvania (20 percent), South Dakota (20 percent), West Virginia (17 percent), Nebraska (15 percent), North Dakota (15 percent) and Oklahoma (15 percent)—fall in the structurally deficient category.

State—and congressional district—specific information from the analysis—including rankings and the locations of the 250 most heavily travelled structurally deficient bridges in the nation and top 25 most heavily traveled in each state—is available at www.artbabridgereport.org.

Established in 1902, Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA is the “consensus voice” of the U.S. transportation design and construction industry before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, news media and the general public.

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