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Register now for ATSSA’s 2021 Legislative Briefing & Virtual Fly-In

Connect with Capitol Hill policymakers from a socially distant virtual platform

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Take part in ATSSA’s 2021 Legislative Briefing & Virtual Fly-In from the comfort and safety of home. The April 21-22 event is free for members and will be completely online making access to Capitol Hill policymakers convenient and effective.

Last year’s virtual event proved popular with ATSSA members and provided a great way to interact with legislators without the need for travel. Participants drove their message to Capitol Hill and enjoyed direct interactions with members of Congress and congressional staff involved in funding and policy decisions.

ATSSA’s Legislative Briefing & Fly-In equips members to present key roadway safety infrastructure industry issues directly to political leaders and this year’s issues are key for the industry. The FAST Act, or Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, was a hot topic last year as ATSSA members advocated successfully for a one-year extension but a new deadline is looming.

They’re baaaaaaaaaack – Earmarks that is

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Late last week, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) announced a process for bringing back congressional directed funding, also known as earmarks. Additionally, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) disseminated a “Dear Colleague” letter to members of Congress indicating his plan to include earmarks in the upcoming highway bill, which is expected to be part of a larger House infrastructure package.

Earmarks are projects that receive some level of federal funding for state and local projects in congressional districts. They differ from competitive grant programs in that competitive grants are applied for and decided by staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), whereas earmarks are advocated for by interested parties and members of Congress decide if they want to include them in a particular legislative vehicle.

Because of an extremely bloated earmark process in the 2005 surface transportation bill, Congress opted to ban earmarks starting in 2011. Since then, there have been occasional rumors that they may return; however, DeLauro’s and DeFazio’s announcements mark the first time there has been this serious of an effort.

Report estimates 2020 traffic fatalities highest in 13 years

National Safety Council releases preliminary data on motor vehicle crashes

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Fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2020 increased 8% over the previous year despite a drop in driving because of the pandemic, according to a report released this morning by the National Safety Council (NSC).

Preliminary data suggests 42,060 people died and 4.8 million were seriously injured in crashes in 2020, according to the report. The rate of death from that data shows a 24% rise over the previous year though motorists traveled 13% fewer miles. That accounted for the biggest year-over-year increase in 96 years, the report noted.

“It is tragic that in the U.S., we took cars off the roads and didn’t reap any safety benefits,” Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of NSC, said in the release. “These data expose our lack of an effective roadway safety culture. It is past time to address roadway safety holistically and effectively, and NSC stands ready to assist all stakeholders, including the federal government.”

Buttigieg nomination for transportation secretary passes committee vote

UPDATE: Full Senate expected to consider the nomination Tuesday at noon.

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UPDATE Jan. 28: The full Senate is expected to consider Buttigieg's nomination Tuesday at noon. 

The Senate Commerce Committee voted 21-3 today to confirm the nomination of former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg to serve as Secretary of Transportation in the Biden administration.

The nomination now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) said he looked forward to working with Buttigieg.

ATSSA urges governors to include roadway workers in Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine plan

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ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner sent a letter today to the nation’s governors asking them to include roadway construction personnel and the manufacturers of roadway safety devices and construction machinery in Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccination plan as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended the group deemed as essential critical infrastructure be included in Phase 1b. Frontline workers such as emergency responders and teachers are also included in this phase.

Roadway infrastructure industry personnel were deemed essential critical infrastructure workers last spring by the Department of Homeland Security. 

Legislation introduced to find alternative Highway Trust Fund revenues

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Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03) has introduced H.R.383, the Road User Charge Advancement Act of 2021, legislation that would build on the Surface Transportation Systems Funding Alternatives (STSFA) program included in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The bill was originally introduced during the last Congress and included in the Moving Forward Act. If it secures passage this Congress, it would nearly double current funding to $35 million annually for STSFA.

The STSFA program incentivizes states to find alternative funding solutions for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), as a reliance on revenues from the current gas tax becomes a less feasible method of keeping the HTF solvent. The federal gas tax has lost nearly 71% of its purchasing power since its most recent rate increase in 1993 due to inflation and the increase in fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles.  Failure to develop new sources of revenue could see the HTF experience a $190 billion shortfall in the next decade.

Biden names MassDOT Secretary as FHWA deputy administrator

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President Joe Biden named Stephanie Pollack as deputy administrator for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced the departure of Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and CEO Pollack and named her successor, according to a news release from the governor’s press office today.

Pollack will also serve as acting administrator for FHWA until a permanent administrator is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, according to the release.

ATSSA joins stakeholders in urging Biden to commit to zero fatalities by 2050

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ATSSA, along with more than 70 other organizations, sent a letter to President Joseph R. Biden on Wednesday urging him to commit to reaching a goal of zero roadway fatalities by 2050.

“Reaching zero fatalities has been a longtime priority for ATSSA,” said Vice President of Engagement Nate Smith. “Our advocacy work in Washington, D.C. and in state capitals around the country is consistently urging legislators to make progress towards that goal.”

Industry report lays out COVID-19 relief funding to DOTs by state

Latest package sends nearly $10 billion to DOTs across the country

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The latest COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress included nearly $10 billion in federal funds for transportation as reported here last month. The vast majority of that money--$9.8 billion—will go to state departments of transportation (DOTs) across the country.  

Industry publication Construction Dive has now gathered details of the amounts expected to go to each state DOT as well as the DOT for the nation’s capital, and created a chart detailing the allotments. Its report also details how the money will be allotted and indicates that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is to distribute the funds within 30 days of the bill’s signing by former President Donald Trump, which took place Dec. 27.

2021 Convention general sessions will inspire, inform and entertain

Keynote speaker Chad Hymas will share lessons learned about adapting to change following an accident that left him a quadriplegic

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ATSSA’s 51st Annual Convention & Traffic Expo’s general sessions will inspire and inform, including insights from keynote speaker Chad Hymas, who was forced to rework everything in his life after a ranch accident left him a quadriplegic.

Hymas will share about his experience adapting to change and offer lessons on leadership, teamwork and customer service to employ in your workplace.

This year’s general sessions stretch over two days and are jampacked with valuable information including panels on the industry, innovation and government advocacy.

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