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Road builders frame funding priorities in Midwest projects

12 ARTBA 400Leading up to another extension (June-July) of the federal transportation funding program, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association circulated on Capitol Hill a publication spotlighting how innovative design and construction techniques, cutting-edge technologies, new materials, safety products, and advanced heavy equipment are being deployed by the public and private sectors to deliver critical and cost-effective highway, bridge and transit projects.

“Economy-Driven: Innovations Driving the ROI in U.S. Transportation Infrastructure” features 25 short case studies of projects that are benefitting U.S. taxpayers. Six jobs in five Midwest states are included in the document:

    • The new Hastings Bridge in Minnesota, weighing in at 3,300 tons, was designed and built to last 100 years. It enhances mobility and safety for both the community and the region and has become part of the area’s identity.
    • A $140 million rail streetcar system under construction in Detroit is an unprecedented public-private partnership and model for regional collaboration. It is the first major public transit project led and funded by private businesses and philanthropic organizations in partnership with local, state and federal governments.
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Missouri Department of Transportation’s Interstate 49 & Route 291 ‘diverging diamonds’ interchange (above) is among projects profiled in the ARTBA publication, which can be obtained by visiting www.tmaw.com, ARTBA’s “Transportation Makes America Work” portal.
  • The Illinois Tollway is in the process of rebuilding and widening a portion of Interstate 90 in the Chicago area, which has reached a critical need for infrastructure expansion and modernization. A gantry system designed and produced exclusively for a key crossing, the Fox River Bridge, is being used to raise concrete girders and then slide them into place on bridgework.
  • The Veteran’s Glass City Skyway is a cable-stayed bridge in Toledo, Ohio, that has historically thickened with ice over the past seven winters it has been in service. Researchers from the University of Toledo developed a sensor system capable of detecting ice buildup on the bridge and signaling when chunks may break free, while a real-time ice monitoring system tracks icing conditions and allows officials to make decisions regarding closure or traffic diversion in case of danger.
  • The new St. Croix Crossing across the Mighty Mississippi River respects the landscape in the Midwest. It brings the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Wisconsin Department of Transportation together on a sound engineering solution with respect for the surrounding environment.
  • A complex interchange project in Wisconsin with three “cut and cover tunnels” in its design minimize the need for multiple levels of roadway, increases overall safety, and breathes new economic life into Milwaukee—all while reducing overall project costs by $10 million.

“Economy Driven” has been sent to all members of Congress and more than 30,000 transportation design and construction professionals around the country to highlight the value and many benefits of transportation infrastructure investment. ARTBA warns, however, that the ability of state transportation departments to complete similar projects in the future could be in jeopardy if Congress does not act soon to find a long-term solution for Highway Trust Fund solvency. The HTF is the source, on average, of 52 percent of highway and bridge capital investments made by state governments annually.

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Astec Industries is among ARTBA members sponsoring the “Economy Driven” report, leveraging rough & tumble imagery to stress the urgency of sound transportation funding strategies.

“Congress has created so much uncertainty in the marketplace with 32 short-term funding extensions that state transportation departments have little choice but to delay or cancel scheduled highway and transit improvement projects every year,” says ARTBA President Pete Ruane. “This, in turn, jeopardizes private sector jobs and makes capital investment and hiring decisions more risky. It’s time for Congress and the president to honestly explain the federal transportation investment situation to the American people and ask for their help in solving the nation’s mobility problems.”