Infrastructure Initiatives: Tensar Takeaways from the 99th Annual AGC Convention
Tensar’s commitment to supporting A+ infrastructure shifted into “high advocacy” gear in Q1, 2018 through its participation in two major industry associations: the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and the Geosynthetic Materials Association.
Infrastructure Plan Supported By AGC
In late February 2018, over 2500 construction professionals ascended on New Orleans for the 99th Annual Associated General Contractors of America Convention. At this year’s meeting, the event featured the latest in industry innovation, safety and relationship-building. This year, Tensar sponsored the AGC Highway and Transportation Contractors Division Leadership Meeting held on February 25, 2018. This group develops AGC policy for issues related to the highway, bridge, transit, airport runway and other transportation construction markets.
Jack Moore, P.E., Area Engineer for Tensar, brought back these top takeaways from the 2.5-hour Highway and Transportation Division meeting during the AGC Convention:
- On February 12, the Executive Branch released a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan and this served as the first focal point of the February 25th meeting.
- The administration’s proposed plan recommends increasing direct federal funding for public works by at least $200 billion over the next ten years; making improvements to the federal permitting process that maintain strong environmental protections while significantly accelerating project reviews; and finding innovative new ways to use federal funds to leverage additional state, local and private-sector funding for infrastructure.
- Currently, annual public investment in highway infrastructure is approximately $160 billion, transit infrastructure is approximately $30 billion and airport runway improvement $7 billion. Railroad investment is largely from the private sector and is approximately $30 billion per year. Despite these investment levels, the AGC believes the current funding situation is inadequate and that the newly proposed infrastructure plan is a good starting place but still needs work to improve the funding aspects.
- Brian Deery, AGC’s Senior Director, Highway & Transportation Construction Division said, “In particular, the proposal does not address the Highway Trust Fund’s pending insolvency at the end of FY 2020 nor does it identify revenue sources for the new infrastructure programs included in the initiative.” Still, Deery noted, “Many of AGC’s recommendations on improving the environmental review and permitting process were included.”
- The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, released the following statement in reaction to President Trump’s proposal, “Moving forward, this association will work vigorously to ensure Congress passes a significant, new, long-term infrastructure funding package as quickly as possible. Our goal will be to make sure every member of Congress appreciates that our economy will not be able to grow if we continue to allow our infrastructure to deteriorate.”
- In early March, the Infrastructure Working Group – led by AGC and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) – plans to lead a two-day infrastructure lobbying push on Capitol Hill attended nearly 50 meetings with House and Senate leadership and members of key congressional committees. Dozens of organizations from diverse sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, finance, labor, retail, hospitality, construction, transportation, and state and local governments collectively called on Congress to pass a targeted, substantial investment in modernizing our nation’s infrastructure.
GMA Lobbies For Infrastructure Innovation
On March 13, 2018, Scott Edgecombe (Tensar’s EVP and GM for Grid, Western Hemisphere) and Doug Brown (Tensar’s National Accounts Manager) participated in related infrastructure lobbying sessions with U.S. transportation policy leaders at the White House.
Doug Brown, brought back these top takeaways from these high level sessions:
- GMA attendees presented several “asks” including a request that USDOT mandate an increase in design life from 20 years to 40 years. GMA will follow up by submitting a brief summary of the overall benefits of geosynthetic products in transportation infrastructure – less initial cost, lower life cycle cost (i.e. longer design life), reduced environmental footprint. GMA representatives also requested modification to USDOT regulatory language on use of “patented or proprietary material.” Current language actually discourages state DOT use of innovative geosynthetic products that can help more effectively achieve U.S. infrastructure goals. GMA will submit current CFR language, as well as suggested edit.
- GMA team asked for advice on what can be done within its federal/state effort to increase geosynthetic usage. It was suggested that focus areas for gaining support should include innovation and transformation of the current construction and maintenance process and also should include a component of funding focused specifically on rural infrastructure. Our industry’s messages to Congress should address these items.
Tensar will continue to play an active role advocating for A+ transportation infrastructure just as it continues to create innovative products that help develop it.
#aplusinfrastucture #geogrid #agcconvention