U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao joined Georgia Governor Nathan Deal late last month to mark the earlier than projected completion of an emergency Georgia Department of Transportation contract, Interstate 85 over Piedmont Road Bridges, in Atlanta. A pre-Memorial Day ribbon cutting below the crossing hinged on reconstruction work attributable to rapid delivery of 61 precast/prestressed concrete bridge beams from Columbus, Ga.-based Standard Concrete Products.
|Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry, P.E. (left) and Governor Nathan Deal honor Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for her agency’s role in the project. In a nod to the site and concrete plant crews, she noted, “The men and women who worked tirelessly to build this bridge have impressed the nation and earned our thanks. Each one of them represents America’s best.”|
|PHOTOS: Georgia Department of Transportation|
In “How a concrete company saved Atlanta’s commute,” Standard Concrete Chief Executive Mason Lampton tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Michael Kannell of fabrication and scheduling sequences behind the 40-ton bulb-tees dispatched from company’s Atlanta and Savannah, Ga., plants. The I-85 Bridges over Piedmont Road carry nearly 250,000 vehicles daily, and reopened to traffic six weeks after a March 30 fire and collapse closed the corridor. Opening of the 700-ft. bridge and roadway section occurred five weeks earlier than Georgia DOT’s original completion commitment, and positioned general contractor, C.W. Mathews Contracting Co. of Marietta, Ga., for a bonus up to $3.1 million.
Among factors contributing to timely project execution, GDOT cites federal emergency relief streamlining, in part because the replacement was consistent with existing structure footprint, precluding requirements for lengthy federal review; accelerated concrete bridge deck curing methods; and, use of precast/prestressed concrete coupled with hauling permit provisions enabling delivery of the 40-ton girders on 24/7 schedules.
LAWMAKERS ZERO IN ON DAVIS-BACON WAGE MATH
Adding to an early-2017 bill targeting the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has introduced The Opportunity in Construction Act (S. 1200), which directs the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to use Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data to calculate prevailing wages for federal and federally assisted construction projects. A BLS data method would replace the current practice of relying on the DOL Wage and Hour Division to calculate Davis-Bacon-bound job wage levels.
“If the Bureau of Labor and Statistics can be trusted to set fair wages for two million federal employees, it can be trusted to do the same for workers on federal infrastructure projects while also providing much-needed relief to taxpayers,” says Senator Flake. “The Opportunity in Federal Construction Act is a commonsense solution to a broken system that will ensure fair wages for workers, more opportunities for small businesses, and less waste for taxpayers.”
“The Davis-Bacon Act requires contractors engaging in certain federal construction projects pay workers on such projects not less than the locally prevailing wage for comparable work,” he explains. “Unfortunately for taxpayers, DOL has been unable to develop an effective process for determining market-rate wages, making the system vulnerable to bias and waste. A prevailing rate for thousands of workers in a given locale can be based on the reported wages of as few as six workers.”
“Under certain conditions, DOL will simply rely on inflated union rates to set a prevailing wage, making it all but impossible for smaller businesses who cannot match union pay rates to compete with unions when bidding on projects,” Senator Flake contends. “A Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation found 63 percent of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rates are union rates despite the fact that only 14 percent of the construction workforce belongs to a union.” — Associated Builders & Contractors