Chairman’s Message: My Year at the Helm

by Nick Ivanoff

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As an avid sailor, I always have good charts and a strong sense of where I am navigating; knowing that unexpected weather or other challenges could develop on the voyage. I’ve tried to bring that same sea sense to my tenure as ARTBA chairman over the last year.

As I write my last column, I wanted to take a look back to highlight what we accomplished together.

Most notably, and supported with generous investments from ARTBA member firms and state chapters for the “Transportation Makes America Work” program, we’ve been relentless in pushing Congress and President Obama to permanently fix the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and pass a well-funded, multi-year surface transportation bill.

Our advocacy blitzkrieg included:

  1. Developing on Capitol Hill and within the Administration two innovative funding plans that could be used to stabilize and grow revenue for the HTF—“Getting Beyond Gridlock” and the “Motor Fuels Refinery Excise;”
  2. Executing comprehensive radio, television, print and digital advertising campaigns inside the D.C. beltway and in the districts of top congressional leaders;
  3. Producing eight major research reports for Congress that quantified the economic benefits of federal transportation infrastructure investment or factually debunked political arguments used by gas tax opponents;
  4. Leveraging the efforts of the Transportation Construction Coalition and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-led Americans for Transportation Mobility coalition to broaden the reach of our industry’s messages to lawmakers and the Obama Administration; and
  5. Investing in new digital grassroots technologies through the “Phone to Action” platform, which has already generated more than 6,100 documented emails, Facebook and Twitter messages from nearly 2,000 advocates to members of Congress since April.

These efforts paid off with the Senate passing by a wide bipartisan margin the six-year “Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act.” It contained modest increases in investment, along with important policy changes that ARTBA has been advocating for several years through its Trans 2020 Task Force. The DRIVE Act also marked the first time in 10 years that one house of Congress had passed a bill that was more than two years in duration. As I write this, the House is scheduled to take action on its version of the bill in late October.

ARTBA Strategic Plan
Some of my goals as chairman were developed with the ARTBA Strategic Plan in mind. To that end, we made significant progress. The Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (TIAC) ( is growing exponentially and has become a go-to resource for industry professionals and the news media. In July, TIAC hosted a very successful Second Annual National Workshop for State & Local Transportation Advocates in Washington. Attendance was up 50 percent from the inaugural event, and we had 28 states participate.

Promoting Safety
There were two areas of focus in the safety arena during the past year—backing and signaling, and fall protection. We completed work on both.  ARTBA’s new certificate course on safe backing and spotting was rolled out to the Contractors Division in August, and we are now scheduling training. And ARTBA’s safety team also completed more than 15 documents and exhibits regarding fall protection from bridges and other structures.

Engaging Millennials
We continued looking to the future and charting a course to more fully engage millennials with the creation of the Young Executive Leadership Task Force. I’m very proud of the group’s work and the comprehensive report they put forward—and which the Board endorsed at its meeting during the National Convention in Philadelphia—with its core set of recommendations to provide the next generation with additional leadership and advocacy opportunities within the association.

In closing, I ask all ARTBA members to support 2015-16 ARTBA Chairman David Zachry and his new leadership team as they continue working hard to achieve final passage of the surface transportation bill.

I want to thank the ARTBA Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and the entire membership and staff for your guidance and support over this past year. I can’t think of having a better crew onboard!

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