[VIDEO] 70% of Americans Willing to Pay for Good Roads

AAA poll reveals majority of Americans would support a federal gas tax hike to pay for better roads; plus more construction industry news on the October 29, 2015, edition of Construction News Tracker

Highway funding reaches deadline...

Floods cause havoc...

And GM has a new ignition switch problem...

That and more on Construction News Tracker presented by Caterpillar.

Here is the latest...

In what could be the shortest legislative extension ever the House in a voice vote has agreed to a 20-day bill that would give lawmakers time needed to craft a long-term six year funding measure and reconcile it with one put forth by the Senate.

Federal DOT claims it has enough money to pay states for projects already underway. Under the House Transportation Committee bill $325 billion would be set aside of which $261 billion would go for highways, $55 billion for transit and $9 billion for safety; but they are able to find money to pay for just three years, not the six years of the entire plan.

A similar situation faces the Senate Transportation measure, and now both houses must find a middle ground to resolve the issue. 

And hopefully in the next 20 days or before they adjourn for Thanksgiving.

One thing appears certain, and that is zero interest in raising the federal gas tax to cover the shortfall.

Yet, despite Congress opposition to a hike in the federal gas tax 70% of Americans would support such a move, the result of an AAA poll taken recently. The majority of motorists urge the government to find money to cover the annual shortfall of roughly $16 billion to repair roads and bridges.

A bit of confusion on statistics covering new construction in the U.S. through September of this year. Dodge Data claims spending fell off in August. However, the nine months total eclipses 2014. The seasonally adjusted rate is at $537 billion, a jump of 12% from 2014 overall. While the building rate for September alone lost 5% of value, the largest value in new construction projects presently appears to be in utilities, highways and bridges.

September New Construction Starts Drop 5%

A deluge of water in a short timespan has resulted in devastating floods on the east and west coasts. Skirted by Hurricane Joaquin a couple weeks ago, South Carolina took the brunt of the storm as 11 dams burst and rivers crested for miles. Add to the misery the state's poor spending history on roads and bridges to maintain them — South Carolina previously paid out millions to settle motorists claims as a result. There will be significant work ahead for construction crews to repair the damage to buildings and other infrastructure.

Meanwhile in southern California, a one time flash flood that dumped better than six inches of rain in a matter of hours completely fouled up two major transportation arteries. The rain caused hillsides, long hardened by drought, to cascade down onto Interstate 5 North/South between Los Angeles and Bakersfield and on Highway 58 East/West between Bakersfield and Barstow. The raging mudflows trapped hundreds of vehicles, and contractors were called on to assist with heavy equipment to remove and clear the roads.

Not long after General Motors settled its long standing safety issue over auto ignition switches comes word the automaker has similar issues with trucks. Specifically, 3,300 large pickups and SUVs, many used by construction crews nationwide. 2014 Silverado and Sierra pickups as well as 2015 Tahoes, suburbans and heavy-duty pickups are on the new recall list. The ignition switch can get stuck in the start position and be jostled into the accessory position resulting in sudden loss of power steering, brakes and other operating functions. If you own one of these contact your GM dealer.

Getting you up to date, the massive tunneling machine Big Bertha used by Seattle Tunnel Partners to dig out a massive highway tunnel is about to resume work. Recall months ago when the machine struck an unknown object underground, burning its bearings. Repairs have been completed and crews are going to start injecting grout into the soil to prepare Bertha for new digging. The $80 million borer, which is 57 feet 4 inches in diameter, will continue the tunnel project on Highway 99, now set to open in March of 2018.

WA Sues Contractor Over Seattle Tunnel Construction Delays

In closing, when all is said and done, more is said than done.

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