Feb. 10, 2005

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has announced new legislative priorities for the next two years, calling on Congress to increase investment in highway and transit improvements, expand infrastructure investment to promote economic growth and make tax cuts permanent.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has announced new legislative priorities for the next two years, calling on Congress to increase investment in highway and transit improvements, expand infrastructure investment to promote economic growth and make tax cuts permanent.

“A strong construction industry is vital to our nation’s economy, particularly as recent employment rates indicate that 12% of the 2.2 million jobs created in the U.S. last year were in the construction industry,” said AGC Chief Executive Officer Stephen E. Sandherr. “AGC will continue to work closely with Congress and the White House to push for enactment of these important initiatives.”

As the transportation construction industry might expect, among AGC’s top priorities is a commitment to the reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), which expired on Sept. 30, 2003. AGC says the federal highway and transit program would create jobs, reduce congestion, upgrade road conditions and save lives. At a time when approximately 84% of U.S. goods are delivered via the highway system, it is crucial to maintain and improve America’s road conditions.

AGC’s top legislative priorities include:

  • Expanding infrastructure investment to promote economic growth;
  • Protecting and building on the successes of TEA-21 and AIR-21;
  • Supporting expansion of federal drinking-water and waste-water funding;
  • Supporting water resources navigation and flood control funding;
  • Meeting America’s school construction needs;
  • Making tax cuts permanent;
  • Supporting changes to tax policies that promote investment, business development and business expansion;
  • Supporting legislation to increase the availability of health insurance, such as association health plans and malpractice insurance reform;
  • Preserving justice and due process for constructors facing litigation;
  • Providing construction expertise to support homeland security; and
  • Responding to the work force needs of the industry with effective immigration reform.

Past ARTBA chairman wins prestigious industry award

Richard R. Stander Sr., a past chairman of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and former president of Mansfield Asphalt Paving Co. in Ohio, is the 2004 recipient of the George S. Bartlett Award. Stander received the award on Jan. 12 at a lunch in Washington, D.C.

Established in 1931 and co-sponsored by ARTBA, the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, the Bartlett Award annually recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to highway progress.

Stander has spent a lifetime improving U.S. highways, ARTBA said in a statement. Throughout his career, which spans more than half a century, he has been an inventor and industry pioneer. In World War II, he championed research that led to a new type of floating bridge to accommodate larger and heavier armored vehicles. After the war, he built the Mansfield Asphalt Paving Co. into one of Ohio’s leading contractors and was an early adopter of automatic paver screeds, pneumatic and vibratory rollers and state-of-the-art asphalt plant production.

He served as 1978 ARTBA chairman, was director of the Ohio Transportation Research Center and is a past chairman of the National Asphalt Pavement Association and the Ohio Contractors Association.

Lettiere now AASHTO president

John F. “Jack” Lettiere Jr., commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), is the new president of AASHTO as of Jan. 10. He was appointed to fill out the nine-month remainder of the 2004-05 term. Lettiere replaces J. Bryan Nicol, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation, who resigned as of Jan. 10. Lettiere, who has been with NJDOT for 30 years, received a governor’s appointment to commissioner in December 2002. As commissioner, he oversees 16,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $3 billion.

“AASHTO is deeply indebted to President Nicol for his many contributions to this organization,” said AASHTO Executive Director John Horsley, “including his work on reauthorization of the federal transportation programs, development of the new five-year strategic plan and his national leadership in the areas of highway operations and information systems.” “Commissioner Lettiere is well-known to the state transportation community,” Horsley continued, “particularly in his leadership in the strategic planning effort and in the areas of financial management and planning.”

Lettiere served as chairman of AASHTO’s Administrative Subcommittee on Transportation Finance and is Region I representative of the AASHTO Strategic Plan Task Force. He also is a member and vice chair of the AASHTO Working Group on Financial Issues, which developed the association’s recommendations for the reauthorization of the federal highway and transportation program.

FHWA gathers planners, agencies for workshops

The Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration are jointly sponsoring a series of workshops discussing strategies for integrating planning and environmental review of transportation construction projects. The workshops have been held in 12 states already, and planning is under way for eight more, according to the January Environmental Streamlining newsletter from FHWA, and FHWA is taking requests for more workshops. The workshops are offered through the National Highway Institute and the National Transit Institute.

The thinking behind the workshops is that linking planning and environmental review will minimize duplicative efforts, because work done on the planning process can be applied to the environmental review process in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and vice versa. Linking the two processes gets the natural-resource agencies talking to the transportation planners early, and the collaboration promotes better understanding among the agencies and a better product in the end.

“With active stakeholder involvement and adequate consideration of environmental factors, decisions generally made in the planning process, such as design concept and scope, should not need to be analyzed again in NEPA,” according to FHWA. Better communication also should prevent the independent agencies from developing conflicting transportation, land use, watershed and habitat conservation plans.

WisDOT accused of withholding release of unfavorable report

A state representative in Wisconsin is criticizing the Wisconsin DOT for holding a report on the cost of consulting contracts for nearly seven months after it was finished, the Associated Press reported in the Appleton, Wis., Post-Crescent.

The report found that it cost the state 18% less to do work with state engineers than to do the same work with state-hired consultants. The state DOT has hired outside consultants in the past for certain work, such as tracking state road signs and creating and maintaining a website to assist drivers navigating through the reconstruction of the Marquette Interchange.

The report was finally released in November of last year, but it was dated last April.

“Absolutely they hid it,” State Rep. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) told the Associated Press. “Open records requests should be handled expeditiously. The system just doesn’t work unless you do that. Things going on in government have to be transparent.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and two unions say they requested the report several times, but they were told it was not yet finished. Accusations and defenses are still flying back and forth. Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi allegedly told the Wisconsin State Employees Union and the State Engineering Association in April that the report was not finished, though two WisDOT memos confirmed that it was finished. WisDOT’s then-chief legal counsel, Jim Thiel, reportedly released the second of the memos to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Friday, Dec. 10, and was demoted on Monday, Dec. 13.

No one has yet filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Justice asking for an investigation into a possible breach of the state’s open records law.

Documents recently obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showed that WisDOT’s own analysis found that the state could build the Marquette Interchange website for 25% less with in-house personnel than the $600,000 the state paid to Milwaukee Transportation Partners to do the work. Milwaukee Transportation Partners is the joint venture formed by HNTB and CH2M Hill Inc. to work on the interchange.

In fall 2002, when the website contract was awarded, Tom Carlsen was acting secretary of transportation. His previous job was as head of HNTB’s Wisconsin operations.

Carlsen said his ties to HNTB had nothing to do with awarding the no-bid website contract. Carlsen and others doubted that WisDOT’s information technology staff could deliver the website as fast as it was needed, even though the state’s technicians determined they could actually deliver it three months early.

“Part of the consideration at the time was that we weren’t sure that the internal project people could deliver the project on time given they had all this other work at the time,” Carlsen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Carlsen and current WisDOT officials said another consideration was that they wanted the website to be developed by a company that was already familiar with the construction project.

Newspaper mistake delays Alabama bridge construction

Failure by The Athens News-Courier to properly publish an advertisement for bids has caused at least a three-month delay in construction of a new bridge on Rte. 99 in Alabama at Round Island Creek west of Athens, according to a statement from the Alabama DOT.

The Alabama DOT placed an insertion order with the newspaper on Oct. 12 requesting the newspaper to publish the advertisement for bids during three consecutive weeks as required by state law. The newspaper failed to publish the advertisement as requested, resulting in the invalidation of the contract issued to the apparent low bidder.

“This is the fifth time an important project has been delayed during the past year because of mistakes by newspapers in publishing notices to contractors,” said Transportation Director Joe McInnes. “State law requires the state department of transportation to run newspaper advertising for three consecutive weeks for all highway construction projects. When a newspaper fails to publish these notices in the manner we request and pay for, we are prevented by state law from accepting any of the bids.”

ALDOT awarded the contract in November 2004, and the low bidder could have started construction in early December. Now construction will not begin until at least March.

ALDOT plans to work with the state legislature to change the law to eliminate delays in construction in cases where there is a newspaper’s error in publishing the advertisement for bids.

“We believe it is important to provide notice to the public and to contractors to ensure fair and competitive bidding,” McInnes said, but a newspaper’s error should not hold up construction and drive up costs. ALDOT bid specifications also are now placed on the Internet, so contractors have access to the information.

HIGHWAY NAMES IN THE NEWS Association news >>>>

Gerald L. Eller, P.E., has been appointed executive director of the Foundation for Pavement Preservation, Austin, Texas.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers has elected Chris Vasiloff, senior vice president and president of the Infrastructure Sector of Ingersoll-Rand Co., Davidson, N.C., to serve on the AEM board of directors.

The Engineering & Utility Contractors Association, San Ramon, Calif., was the recipient of two 2004 Chapter Excellence Awards as well as three 2004 honorable mentions in a national awards competition sponsored by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, Washington, D.C.

Hal Lewis, senior vice president of HDR, Omaha, Neb., and Garry M. Higdem, president of APAC Inc., Atlanta, have been named design and construction co-chairs, respectively, of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Young Executive Leadership Council. Tom Hill, chief executive of Oldcastle Materials Inc., Washington, D.C., is the private-sector recipient of the 2004 ARTBA Award, ARTBA’s most prestigious honor, for his contributions to advancing the objectives of the association.

Max Lorenz, a specialist civil engineering CADD designer, has joined Mactec Engineering & Consulting Inc., Alpharetta, Ga.

Hollis A. Walker Jr., P.E., has been named president of Wilbur Smith Associates, Columbia, S.C.

Nancy Ricciardelli has joined Ralph Whitehead Associates as a senior transportation planner in the firm’s Raleigh, N.C., office.

Earth Tech Inc., Long Beach, Calif., has named three vice presidents to pursue major infrastructure projects in the U.S. and Canada: Pamela Murray Johnson, Joe Cazares and Lou Tortora Jr.

Claudio Dallavalle, P.E., has rejoined HNTB Corp., Seattle, as a vice president to manage and direct major transportation and infrastructure projects in the Puget Sound area.

Bruce Johinke has been named president of PB Consult, New York, a Parsons Brinckerhoff subsidiary that provides management consulting services.

Manufacturing News

Fecon Inc. has relocated to a new 56,000-sq-ft manufacturing facility in Lebanon, Ohio.

Vermeer Manufacturing Co., Pella, Iowa, has entered into an exclusive strategic alliance with Ring-O-Matic Manufacturing Co., Pella, Iowa, to distribute vacuum excavation units through the Vermoor worldwide dealer network.

Charles Stamp Jr., vice president of public affairs worldwide at Deere & Co., Moline, Ill., has been elected chairman of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers for 2005. Gerald Shaheen, group president of Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill., was elected first vice chairman. Dennis Eagan, group president for industrial/power equipment at Blount Inc., Zebulon, N.C., was elected second vice chairman. Charles Martz, president of Link-Belt Construction Equipment Co., Lexington, Ky., was elected treasurer. And Dennis Slater, AEM’s full-time president was elected secretary. Jerry Warmkessel, sales engineer for Mack Trucks Inc., Allentown, Pa., has been awarded the Silver Spark Plug Award by the Technology and Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations.

Geophysical Survey Systems Inc., Salem, N.H., has won FCC certification for its Model 4105 2-GHz air-launched horn antenna, a key component of its RoadScan ground-penetrating radar system.

Volvo Construction Equipment Rents Inc. has opened its third rental center in Canada in the city of Brampton, Ont.

Michael A. Pemberton has been named president and chief operating officer of Unique Paving Materials Corp., Cleveland, Ohio. U. Eric Zimmermann has been named general manager for water technology at Putzmeister America, Sturtevant, Wis. His main objective is to launch the company’s new product line of high-pressure water jetting equipment. Also at Putzmeister, Bob Liebermann has been named special products sales manager.

Tom Zorn has been appointed business area executive for the rental service business area and CEO for Rental Service Corp., Scottsdale, Ariz. Océ, Chicago, has appointed four senior vice presidents: Dennis Riordan, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Océ-USA Holding; William Mayer, senior vice president for human resources of Océ-USA Holding; Michael Scordino, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of Océ-USA Holding; and Dan Krzesinski, senior vice president for service of Océ North America.

About The Author: Allen Zeyher is associate editor of RB.

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