By John Schneidawind, ARTBA vice president, public affairs, ARTBA 

ARTBA Chairman Steve McGough April 29 called on the Trump administration and Congress to take immediate steps to stabilize state transportation programs, and enact a multi-year plan that dramatically increase federal highway, bridge and public transportation investment.

McGough, above, the president and CFO of Houston-based HCSS, delivered his remarks during a U.S. DOT virtual “listening session” led by Secretary Elaine Chao, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Administrator Nicole Nason and Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Mala Parker.

“As ARTBA has reported each night since mid-March, nearly all of the nation’s governors have declared transportation construction work as essential,” McGough said. “However, we can only keep operating as long as the resources exist to pay for needed transportation improvements.”

“After the Great Recession of 2008, it took eight years—until 2015—for the levels of highway and street construction activity to return to 2007 levels,” McGough said.

FHWA’s Nicole Nason

“FHWA stands ready to assist our transportation partners such as ARTBA with the challenges they are currently facing in any way we can,” said Administrator Nason. “We share the goal of working together to protect the safety of the public and the workers who are tasked with building, operating, and maintaining our transportation systems. Our continued coordination and collaboration will be critical to our success in delivering our transportation programs and keeping America moving.”

The ARTBA chairman outlined other key transportation construction industry’s recommendations for helping America’s economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. McGough asked the U.S. DOT to:

  • Continue exploring ways in which virtual public meetings can fulfill requirements for input relating to projects.
  • Encourage FHWA division offices to collaborate with state transportation departments and industry to address project-level issues such as COVID-19 prevention costs and application of price adjustment clauses.
  • Allow states to opt out of certain guidance provisions for the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, which are difficult to follow under current work conditions and unusual letting schedules.
  • Take steps to finalize improvements to the hours of service rule to enable more efficient use of personnel on projects.
  • Establish a working group with the Secretary’s office, FHWA, state DOTs, and industry to identify and address all project-related issues.

Leaders of both the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America and the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO) also delivered remarks during session.