Just one of the items to come out of the regional conference calls: Florida is planning on spending about $45 billion on transportation in the next five years. iStock photo

By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

ARTBA members heard special presentations and state news round ups during Southern, Western and Northeastern region conference calls this week. Here are some highlights:

Southern Region

Diane Gutierrez-, executive director and CEO of Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, said the Sunshine State is planning about $45 billion in transportation-related spending over the next five years. The figure includes right-of-away acquisition, inspections and public transit allocations in addition to construction.

Florida wants to expand its base of contractors, she said, but interested firms need to pre-qualify.

“Florida has a very healthy transportation program, extraordinarily so,” Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. “We are uniquely positioned to lead the industry.”

Western Region

Carlos Swonke of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) detailed his agency’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) delegation program with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Environmental assessments have been halved from three years to 18 months since the program agreement was signed in November 2014, he said.

“The benefit is in day-to-day decision making, that’s where the real time-savings is,” Swonke said. The agreement has also helped TxDOT improve its working relationship with local governments.

Northeastern Region

Jim Starace, chief engineer of The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey gave an overview of the agency’s capital program. More than $27 billion in work is planned over the next decade, including road construction associated with port and airport improvements, plus several bridge reconstruction and replacement projects.

Starace said the agency is always looking for ways to accelerate its many smaller projects, and is considering more alternative contracting strategies. The construction manager/general contractor model, he said, is generally used for smaller projects.

Fall Meetings

ARTBA staff also discussed the four annual regional meetings that will take place in late October and early November. This year’s meetings will feature additional content from the Industry Leader Development Council (ILDC), including topics such as autonomous vehicles, innovative technology, artificial intelligence and the future of the workforce.

Newsline will have information about meeting agendas and other details coming soon.