By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

ARTBA Chairman Steve McGough this week delivered in-person remarks at annual conventions of two of the association’s state chapters. He reminded the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Missouri’s Aug. 3 meeting in Kansas City, and the Florida Transportation Builders’ Association’s Aug. 6 gathering in Orlando, how ARTBA has helped its members weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

ARTBA played a key role in making the case that transportation construction is an essential industry, so that work continued without interruption in nearly every state, McGough said.

Throughout the pandemic, ARTBA also has provided value-added member services such as webinars and virtual forums on safety and policy issues; regular reports on the pandemic’s impacts on state construction activities and declines in highway user fee revenue because of less driving, found in Members Only; and introduced new products, including interactive dashboards to help industry executives better understand market conditions and how states are investing their federal highway funds.

ARTBA is laser-focused on two key remaining priorities this year, McGough said:

  • First: help secure federal assistance to stabilize state transportation programs and prevent more cuts to highway infrastructure improvements.
  • Second: achieve a highway and transit investment bill as a smart policy choice to boost America’s economic recovery post-coronavirus.

“The outlook for a surface transportation reauthorization bill right now is cloudy at best,” he said. “The House has produced its plan, but we are all still waiting for the Senate to take its next steps. … Frankly, if we don’t see action soon, all senators are going to have to explain why they let the best opportunity in 20 years to increase highway and transit investment slip through their fingers.”

McGough, president and chief financial officer of Sugarland, Texas-based construction software firm HCSS, also reviewed ARTBA’s board-approved strategic plan through 2022. It includes the formation of a new policy group called the “Construction Forum,” which will explore risk allocation and similar important issues.

More details on the forum will be in the upcoming issue of Transportation Builder magazine.

Between the two chapter events, McGough visited with staff leaders from more than 20 of its state affiliates in a virtual meeting format. Led by Tom Layfield, executive director of the Alabama Road Builders Association and chairman of ARTBA’s Council of State Executives, the group shared thoughts on current issues in federal and state funding, advocacy and association management. They were also joined by Jerry Yakowenko, contract administration team leader at the Federal Highway Administration, for a discussion on pandemic-related project costs and claims.