National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association Engineering & Technical (E&T) Committee members have stepped up efforts supporting consistent design and product specifications between federal and state agencies.
“Who better than engineers from the aggregates industry to provide advice on the correct use of our products? This committee will build on existing relationships with federal and state agencies so the end products—roads, bridges, buildings, runways, and other critical infrastructure components—can be constructed in the most efficient and economical way,” says Committee Chair Darin Matson, chief executive officer of Nashville-based Rogers Group.
High on the E&T priority list is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to improve runway design where, NSSGA contends, a) it is difficult, if not impossible, for many members to produce aggregates that meet some of the current runway surface and base layer specifications; and, b) consideration should be given in specifications for differences in the local stone or stone, sand & gravel geology without jeopardizing pavement structures’ overall performance.
“As we work with the FAA to revise its durable runway specs, we encourage engineers who are passionate about an issue to provide their knowledge and expertise to any government agency involved with the built environment,” notes Matson.
The FAA runway issue is among many challenges the E&T Committee will address through task forces and subcommittees. Dovetailing its outreach is the appointment of Randy Weingart, former Materials director at Virginia’s Luck Stone, to the newly created position of NSSGA director of Engineering and Technical Policy. He will coordinate committee efforts and serve as point-of-contact for association members with technical or engineering questions.
E&T will convene during the NSSGA Legislative and Policy Forum/Fall Board Meeting, September 25 in Washington, D.C. The event will give engineers a chance to review ongoing projects, discuss industry challenges with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and advocate for the proper use of aggregates as the nation rebuilds its infrastructure. Additional information on the E&T Committee can be obtained from Randy Weingart, [email protected].
NSSGA was joined by the American Concrete Pavement Association and Portland Cement Association as affiliates of Infrastructure Week 2017. Under a “Time to Build” theme, the May 15-19 event saw public and private entities engage in education, advocacy and social media activities to a) support roads, bridges, rail, ports, airports, water and sewer systems, and the energy grid; and, b) encourage policymakers to invest in the projects, technologies, and policies necessary to make America competitive, prosperous and safe.
The program kicked off at U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington, D.C., with panel discussions, presentations, and keynotes exploring the critical role infrastructure plays in the nation’s economy. The speaker roster underscored the broad range of stakeholders, and had among headliners Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao; American Society of Civil Engineers President Norma Jean Mattei; Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers CEOs Tom Donohue and Jay Timmons; and, AFL-CIO and North America’s Building Trades Unions Presidents Richard Trumka and Sean Garvey.
Infrastructure Week Steering Committee members invite companies and organizations with stakes in transportation, environmental and power infrastructure to sign on as affiliates. — www.infrastructureweek.org
ROAD BUILDERS DAM WATERS OF U.S. RULE
In recent comments to the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee, American Road & Transportation Builders Association argues that the Environmental Protection Agency’s contentious “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule should be repealed as it is scientifically and legally flawed; threatens bipartisan achievements in reducing transportation project delays; and, is likely to be used as a litigation tool to delay projects, making construction more expensive.
“[A]ny reduction in delay gained from improvements to the project delivery process would likely be negated by the increased permitting requirements and opportunities for litigation caused by the WOTUS rule’s expansion of federal jurisdiction,” ARTBA tells the EPW Committee. Along with its work on Capitol Hill, the association is involved in litigation over the rule, implementation of which has been stayed by a federal court of appeals. Additionally, ARTBA supports a President Donald Trump directive for the EPA to repeal WOTUS.
Under the Obama administration-promulgated rule, the agency attempts to redefine what bodies constitute the “waters of the United States” and are therefore subject to federal authority. Before the WOTUS release, ARTBA told EPA on several occasions that “roadside ditches are not, and should not be regulated as, traditional jurisdictional wetlands as they are not connected water bodies and they contribute to the public health and safety of the nation by dispersing water from roadways.” Instead of categorically exempting roadside ditches from federal jurisdiction, ARTBA observes, the rule contains a litany of qualifications they must meet to be deemed exempt from federal permitting requirements.