Highway Trust Fund Update
Congress sends Bush bill restoring highway funds
President Bush is expected to sign legislation infusing $8 billion into the financially teetering fund that supports road and bridge projects around the country, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The Bush administration acknowledged that the trust fund, which derives its revenues from the federal gas tax, was going broke much faster than anticipated and that Washington would have to begin delaying payments to states for construction work.
The House voted 376-29 on the measure to transfer $8 billion from the Treasury’s general fund to shore up the 52-year-old highway trust fund. The Senate approved the measure by a voice vote after several Republicans who had held up the legislation for months agreed to let it go forward.
The breakthrough in the Senate came after Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced that the trust fund, which enjoyed a $10-billion surplus just three years ago, would run out of money in September. She urged quick action by Congress to restore solvency to the fund.
In July, after the House first passed the $8-billion replenishment effort, the White House threatened a veto, saying taking money from the general fund was “both a gimmick and a dangerous precedent that shifts costs from users to taxpayers at large.”
Supporters of the transfer argued that the Treasury was merely returning $8 billion it took from the then-prospering trust fund in 1998 for deficit reduction.
It has long been anticipated that the trust fund would move into the red next year, a result of the reluctance of Congress to raise the gasoline tax, unchanged since 1993 despite inflation and soaring construction costs. The federal fuel tax is 18.4 cents a gallon, or 24.3 cents for diesel.
But the fund has recently had a rapid change in fiscal fortune as drivers, responding to higher prices, have curtailed their driving and switched to more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive director of the Associated General Contractors (AGC), expressed relief that Congress had finally acted. “We knew this shortfall was coming and we have made this a priority for the last two years,” he said. “The money was set to run out, states were going to be left holding the bag and contractors would have been forced to lay people off.”
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), using Transportation Department figures, said that without the fix federal highway aid to the states would drop from $35 billion in the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30 to $24 billion in the next fiscal year 2009. It estimated that 379,000 jobs would be lost without congressional action.
Pavement test track conference
NCAT hosts event
The National Center for Asphalt Technology at Auburn University (NCAT) will host the third Pavement Test Track Conference on Feb. 9-11, 2009, at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National. The two-day meeting will highlight research findings from NCAT’s 1.7-mile test track.
Participants will have a chance to tour the track, hear researchers and Department of Transportation (DOT) engineers discuss their latest results and observe how they are being put into practice.
Event registration will open in November 2008 online at www.ncat.us.
Traffic management/work zone safety conference now include
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF) will host its 2009 “National Traffic Management and Work Zone Safety Conference” in conjunction with the 2009 World of Asphalt Show & Conference, March 9-12 in Orlando, Florida.
The announcement comes following an agreement between ARTBA-TDF and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), which are World of Asphalt co-owners.
In addition to hosting the conference, ARTBA-TDF will organize a “traffic management and safety pavilion” in the World of Asphalt exhibit hall and offer U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety training sessions.
Educational sessions focus on warm mix, highway funding
The National Asphalt Pavement Association’s 54th annual meeting, to be held January 18 - 21, 2009 at the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina, will be filled with many educational programs and networking events. In addition, committee meetings will take place both prior to, and during the annual meeting and are open to attendees.
The annual meeting offers a range of educational sessions, including:
- “Contractor Sustainability — Going Green without Going Broke.” This session will focus on the important topics of environmental sustainability and cost containment, and will examine the benefits of higher reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) contents.
- “Oil Supply and Prices.” Come to this session to hear energy and asphalt experts share the tools needed to guide your company. With this insider look, attendees will learn about alternative sources of oil, such as oil sands in Alberta, future trends for the costs of both asphalt and competing materials, and what is being done to research alternative materials.
- “Highway Funding: It’s Your Job.” Rising material costs and fixed budgets for state transportation agencies are making it tough to do business in the asphalt pavement industry. Find out what the highway market looks like for 2009 and 2010, learn how to set up a successful state campaign to boost funding for highways, and learn how to improve your company’s grassroots involvement, right down to the paving crews.
Register before December 5 to receive a discounted registration fee. To register, or for more information on the 2009 NAPA Annual Meeting, visit www.hotmix.org or call (888) 468-6499.
Company has new joint venture with ITR/USCO
HEAVYQUIP, an independent supplier of asphalt paver parts and replacement parts for heavy equipment, has now joined forces with ITR/USCO.
The new partnership brings a strong commitment and new resources for products and the expansion of HEAVYQUIP’s / Metaris paver parts product line.
HEAVYQUIP’s current product coverage includes a wide range of replacement parts for use on asphalt pavers manufactured by Blaw-Knox, Caterpillar, Barber-Green, Cedarapids, Roadtec, Champion-Allatt and Leeboy.
With the joint venture, HEAVYQUIP’s North American parts distribution has expanded to 18 branch locations in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Canada.
Beyond paver parts, HEAVYQUIP locations also provide replacement parts and services for earthmoving equipment, including dozers, excavators, track loaders, wheel loaders, graders, mini-excavators and mini-track loaders manufactured by Caterpillar, Deere, Komatsu, Case and other equipment manufacturers.
VSS Macropaver receives award
U.S. Department of Commerce recognizes company
Republican George Radanovich presented VSS Macropaver, a division of Reed International, with U.S. Department of Commerce Award.
Over the past year, VSS Macropaver has exported to over 10 International countries, including China, Canada, Chile, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Russia, Zambia, Colombia, and Mexico. Boasting a sales increase of 35 percent from 2007, over 50 percent of VSS Macropavers sales generated are from exports.
Eduardo Torres, Director, Fresno U.S. Export Assistance Center – assisted VSS Macropaver with market research and counseling for Latin American countries and the successful export of their slurry seal and microsurfacing machines to the Mexican market.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Export Assistance Center recognized VSS Macropaver with an Export Achievement Certificate for recent accomplishments in the Global Marketplace presented by Congressmen George Radanovich at the Craigs School of Business at California State University, Fresno.
Vice President Doug Hogue was present to receive the Certificate of Achievement from the Congressmen and U.S. Department of Commerce.
2008 Recipients of Traffic Safety
Don Harris, a former consultant with Minnesota-based 3M and Lee E. Billingsley, retired director of the Broward County (FL) Public Works and Transportation Department are the respective private and public sector recipients of the 2008 American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) prestigious “Jake Landen Memorial Safety Award.”
Established in 1989 by ARTBA’s Traffic Safety Industry Division (TSID) in memory of safety industry leader and past ARTBA Chairman (1976) J.C. Landen, the award annually recognizes outstanding contributions to highway safety.