December 2016


NACE Shares Priorities with President Elect Trump Transition Team


white-house.jpgAs President Elect Trump’s Transition Team is evaluating staff and prioritizing issues, NACE sent the following letter to The Honorable Mike Pence, Chair and Vice President Elect, and Marcus Lemon, Lead of the Transportation Landing Team.

As we move forward with the new Administration, NACE communicated our top 3 priorities: 

    Funding solutions for our infrastructure, 

    Project streamlining of federal funding for county projects,

    Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) grants for locals and nonprofits


We look forward to working with the President Elect's Administration toward safer, more efficient local roads.


Dear Vice President Elect Mike Pence:

As you progress on your transition for President Elect Trump, I am writing to convey the legislative priorities of the National Association of County Engineers (NACE). 

NACE is a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional association founded in 1956. NACE is the voice America depends on for safe, efficient county roads and bridges.  Nationwide, local roads account for about 75% of our highways and roads with over 231,000 bridges owned by counties.  Our more than 2,000 members are county engineers, public works directors, highway commissioners, road managers and related professionals in the US and Canada. NACE is a partner with NACo (National Association of Counties).

Our top three priorities related to roads and bridges are Funding, Project Streamlining and Local Road Safety.

Funding  

The deteriorating state of our Nation’s infrastructure is well documented, but what may not be as well known is that locals own 43% of the federal aid highway system yet only see about 15 % of the funding from federal highway bills. In total, locals own 75% of the roadway network. It is imperative that we address both the state owned and local owned systems by:

Providing a long term transportation solution to the Highway Trust Fund that will meet the needs of the Nation’s infrastructure. In the short term, raise motor fuel taxes to offset the investment deficit in our nation’s federal highway system, and tie them to annual inflation. Simultaneously, accelerate efforts to develop and implement an adequate and acceptable replacement user fee (such as a vehicle miles traveled or VMT) to position the country for long term transportation stability and success;

Designating a separate funding pool for all structurally deficient or functional obsolete bridges, regardless of ownership, with the goal of funding the rehabilitation or replacement of 50% of these structures within a five year period;

Developing an appropriate funding allocation formula so that locals receive an adequate share of federal funding.

Project Streamlining 

Administrative requirements when receiving federal funding for county projects most often result in higher project costs and longer delivery times.  Currently, counties are required to follow the same exhaustive federal requirements on a small sidewalk or preservation project as they are for mega projects.  From a risk management standpoint, this simply does not make sense.  Project delivery and streamlining reforms are necessary to balance the risk with the benefits for the public.  

NACE proposes that for simple, low cost projects, the successful contractor and any subcontractors employed by the contractor would submit a single page document to the project sponsor certifying compliance with all applicable contract requirements and federal code.  Fortunately MAP-21 set a precedent by identifying a category of low cost projects appropriate for Categorical Exclusions [23 CFR Part 771.117 (c) and/ or (d)].  

One method to address this issue would be to require two certifications by the project sponsor (consisting of a letter) to the FHWA Division Administrator. These certifications would be:

1) Certification from the project sponsor that the project was developed and designed to the standards of the project sponsor, this would be local standards for local government agencies, and state standards for State Transportation Department projects;

2) Certification from the State Transportation Department or project sponsor that the project will be competitively bid in accordance with 23 CFR 635 Subpart A. The certification will be executed by the State Transportation Department if the project is bid by the State Transportation Department  regardless of project sponsor. 

Conversely, projects to be bid by local government sponsors shall have their certification executed by the local sponsor. All simple, low cost projects that qualify for authorization under this proposal would not be subject to any additional review or requirements of any other federal agencies.

Local Road Safety 

2015 brought the largest percent increase in US traffic deaths in fifty years, from 32,675 to 35,092. The first six months of 2016 continues this trend with an increase of 10.4%.  Local and Rural roads have a disproportionate number of highway fatalities in the US, rural at roughly 57%.  Two items can help address this issue:

Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program Funds should be allocated based on fatalities and serious injuries, regardless of ownership.

NACE supports Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) Grants which would provide local and non-profit organizations with funding to establish and implement TZD programs, which have been proven effective in other organizations.  

The nation’s citizenry does not distinguish between governmental agency ownership when it comes to their daily commutes, trips to the market or school, or hauls for commerce. Seldom does a trip begin without covering significant distance on local roads. It is NACE’s desire to be a major partner to the administration in restoring our country’s infrastructure and placing ournation back in a position of economic competitiveness in the global economy.

Please contact me at 202-393-5041 or broberts@naco.org if you would like to have further dialog about our NACE priorities.  Thank you for your attention to these matters.

Sincerely,

Brian C. Roberts, PE

Executive Director
National Association of County Engineers

 

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