March 21, 2017

ARTBA-SQUARE.pngLICA Joins ARTBA Affiliates

CONEXPO was the perfect opportunity for ARTBA to bring together its affiliates to share the latest news and updates on important, industry related initiatives. This year, LICA was represented by Lynn Barker, LICA Manager of Marketing, Research & Analytics, who attended the ARTBA Council of State Executives (CSE) meeting and the ARTBA Federal Legislative & Regulatory Report and Transportation Construction Market Conditions meeting, which was held the following day. The CSE meeting, led by CSE Chair and GCA Executive Director Denise Richardson, touched on many issues of importance. ARTBA’s Nick Goldstein provided detailed updates on many of the Federal Regulatory issues and challenges we face.

ARTBA’s Dave Bauer added to that, with additional updates on Federal Funding and related advocacy efforts, noting that it is CRITICAL that we keep pressure on our elected officials to find a permanent funding source for the HTF now, so the industry does not get caught up in another cycle of short-term extensions. Dave expanded on this point and other issues at the Federal Legislative update meeting on Tuesday, where he explained that the only thing we know “for sure” with the new administration is that no one yet knows anything. Our major concern lies with our advocacy efforts because as of today, many key positions in the federal agencies that we need to deal with remain unfilled. The Trump administration has yet to appoint new leaders (which Dave noted may partly be due to difficulty finding people who are willing to serve in this administration). With no new appointed leaders in place, ARTBA representatives have no one to advocate to, to make sure our concerns are heard.

During the Legislative & Regulatory meeting update on Tuesday, Bauer went into greater detail about specific funding issues, noting that due to the election, nearly $1.5 billion in FAST Act funding increases were delayed, so the industry is really operating at the same levels as last year. He noted that Congress MUST decide on 2017 investment levels by April 28 and reiterated that with 2018 fiscal year officially beginning as of October 1, 2017 – we must continue our strong advocacy efforts. Bauer noted that as ARTBA believes a long term funding solution will have to come as part of a major tax reform bill, unfortunately, we are unable to get the attention of the tax committee, as they are too busy working on “repealing and replacing” the Affordable Care Act. However, despite the “unknowns” of the new administration, he does sense that there has been a large attitude shift in Congress and that they are more committed than ever to fix the problem long term and not only “maintaining” funding levels – but increasing them. He urged all ARTBA affiliates to seize this opportunity and to continue reaching out to our local, state and federal contacts to keep the momentum going in the right direction.

ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black gave a detailed update and presentation on not only the federal but state-by-state markets, including the bridge market which has grown to record levels over the last 15 years. She noted that the bridge report ARTBA recently released had received a great deal of national media coverage, spurring many states to demand further funding to address these critical infrastructure issues. She did note that research shows state and local contract awards for 2016 were down by approximately 13% over 2015, which may be partly due to uncertainty of the pending election. P3’s (Public Private Partnerships) accounted for approximately 3-5% of actual construction work (not including airports). ARTBA will continue to closely track all transportation funding and related bills and asks that all affiliates continue to be diligent in their advocacy efforts.

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