By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

ARTBA’s policy priority forums–Construction, Innovation & Technology, and Safety–debuted this week in virtual sessions joined by attendees from across the association’s eight divisions.

The forums were created by ARTBA’s Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) to modernize the association’s governance structure and provide members with a new way to collaborate on policy development and share information. The 2020-22 strategic plan was unanimously adopted in June by ARTBA’s Board of Directors.

Highlights of each forum include:

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY FORUM

This forum’s first policy initiative is to focus on digital construction. 

“We hope to identify best practices around technology advancements in our industry and to maximize the benefits that can be achieved through a wide range of innovations,” said Steve Berglund, executive chairman at Trimble, who chairs this forum.

Trimble Senior Vice President Cyndee Hoagland, and Lane Construction VDC/BIM Director Matt Blake discussed a recent innovation and technology survey that included feedback from members. Highlights included:

  • Developing standards and standardization across the industry is seen as a top concern;
  • Workforce adoption and training are the biggest challenges; and
  • Technology changes at state agencies will have the biggest impact on the industry.

Jeffrey A. Zaharewicz, acting director of the Federal Highway Administration’s Center for Accelerating Innovation, praised ARTBA’s collaboration with the agency’s Every Day Counts program. “We are very appreciative of that relationship and that partnership,” he said. 

Leaders from the forum will also participate in a larger general session on “What’s Next for Digital Construction” at ARTBA’s virtual National Convention, Oct. 19-21.

Staff Liaison: Senior Vice President of Strategic Engagement Allison Klein.

SAFETY FORUM

This forum’s three co-chairs outlined key concerns:

  • Former U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) Secretary Jim Burnley said the updated Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) must include allowance for use of patented and proprietary products. Also, the department’s agencies need more recognition and understanding that worker fatalities are a significant portion of deaths categorized as pedestrian fatalities. The agencies must address these hazards, he said.
  • Laura Huizinga of Lindsay Transportation Solutions shared how information, products, and technologies offered by ARTBA’s Traffic Safety Industry Division members can improve safety, especially through more emphasis on separating workers from motorized traffic.
  • Lee Cole of CRH Americas Materials emphasized the need for a better mechanism to deploy new safety technologies more quickly to save lives.

 FHWA Associate Administrator Cheryl Walker said the agency is working to educate its division offices and the states about how to access and increase Highway Safety Improvement Project (HSIP) funds. The agency also is working with the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) to evolve the guidelines into performance standards. MASH outlines testing requirements for traffic control devices used on or near U.S. roadways.  

FHWA Associate Administrator for Operations Martin Knopp praised the long-standing partnership with ARTBA in training over 50,000 workers, conducting more than 2,000 worker safety classes, and developing and distributing tens of thousands of safety documents since 2005.  He also provided an overview of all the programs contained within the Office of Operations.

Staff Liaison: Senior Vice President of Safety & Education Brad Sant.

CONSTRUCTION FORUM

Attendees heard from Jerry Yakowenko, FHWA contract administration team leader, who provided an update on construction policy issues.  These included pandemic-related project costs, Buy America, project labor agreements and indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) or job order contracting (JOC).

The second meeting segment included Planning & Design Division leaders Kevin Cornish of AECOM and Chad Critcher of RS&H, who offered a preview of recommendations relating to risk and alternative delivery. Members from all divisions will be encouraged to offer feedback in coming weeks.

The Construction Forum is co-chaired by Al Hoffman, Road-Con Inc.; Mike Mangione, WSP USA; and Ananth Prasad, Florida Transportation Builders’ Association.

Staff Liaison: General Counsel Rich Juliano.