WASHINGTON – House Transportation & Infrastructure Chair Sam Graves commended ATSSA members on Tuesday for investing the time to take their roadway safety insights to Capitol Hill to share with legislators.
“These are very important,” he said of Fly-Ins. “When constituents come talk to members of Congress, it makes a difference.”
Graves (R-MO) was one of four public officials who spoke on the first day of the two-day Legislative Briefing & Fly-In.
ATSSA members also heard from Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY) and National Transportation Safety Board NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. Homendy, who was sworn in as chair in 2021, said her priorities have been to make sure the NTSB focuses on its safety mission, has the resources needed to do its work and improves the timeliness of investigative reports.
She said the NTSB has long been associated with airline investigations but that the fatalities and injuries on the nation’s roads are the nation’s public health crisis.
“Why is that not the crisis we’re focused on,” she said.
Homendy listed a series of concerns from speeding to the weight of electric vehicles and said a big issue for her is vulnerable road users such as runners, cyclists, motorcycle riders and work zone workers.
“From the NTSB perspective, it’s the person outside the vehicles that’s been ignored,” she said. “We need to do more.”
ATSS Foundation Board member Kathleen Holst thanked Homendy for the emphasis she shared.
“When you say your attention is to roadway safety, I want to thank you,” Holst said after referencing a prior experience when a public official recognized that injuries on roads were far greater than in the skies but didn’t receive nearly the attention.
This morning, ATSSA members representing 21 states plus the District of Columbia are advocating for roadway safety on Capitol Hill by taking part in more than 70 meetings scheduled with Senators, House of Representatives members and key staff members.
Sixty-three ATSSA members registered for the Legislative Briefing & Fly-In, which this year coincides with National Work Zone Awareness Week NWZAW. The national kickoff event for NWZAW took place yesterday in Missouri and was hosted by the Missouri Department of Transportation MoDOT. The week also includes “Go Orange Day” today, in which people are encouraged to wear orange to help raise awareness, a Social Media Storm on Thursday, and a Moment of Silence on Friday to remember the lives lost to work zone incidents.
The goal of the Legislative Briefing & Fly-In is for members to play a role in advocating for roadway safety and this year to raise awareness on two key issues for the roadway safety infrastructure industry. This year’s focus is on the Buy America program and with programs under the Federal Aviation Administration FAA that are expected to be reauthorized this year.
ATSSA established a new policy this year expressing support for “increased funding for safety applications and projects that are relevant to our industry for airfield and landside infrastructure.”
Four key points related to airports are being presented during member visits:
Seeking an increase in funding and expansion of eligibility for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which would improve safety for travelers going to and from the airport. Specifically, AIP funds for projects on access roads and at curbs in front of terminals would help with passenger safety, reducing traffic jams and managing traffic.
Seeking an increase in funding of $151 billion over five years to meet infrastructure needs, an amount the Airports Council International says is needed after nearly two decades of funding at $3.35 billion per year.
Seeking support for “efforts to increase federal funding for the [AIP] and continue to support user fee mechanisms that fund the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and maintain budgetary firewalls,” as recommended by the Infrastructure Report Card released in 2021 by the American Society of Civil Engineers ASCE.
Seeking support for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of airfield pavement, identified as the largest category of funding needs by the FAA’s National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. This funding would involve projects for the application of signage, surface treatments, pavement coatings and pavement markings.
ATSSA members support the idea of supporting American businesses but face challenges in meeting the demands of Buy America due to costs, the unavailability of some materials, confusion about the certification process and an expectation of work interruptions, project completion challenges and liquidated damages, according to a member survey.
The Association has taken the following positions regarding Buy America:
ATSSA supports pre-IIJA Buy America provisions and waivers but not the changes included in IIJA.
If the new requirements aren’t repealed, ATSSA supports a delay in implementing the new requirements pending market availability and a streamlined certification process.
ATSSA supports Office of Management and Budget OMB guidance that preserves the current exemption of Buy America provisions for temporary devices.
ATSSA will create educational tools for its members and partner agencies on the impacts to the roadway safety infrastructure industry once the U.S. Department of Transportation USDOT finalizes plans for next steps on Buy America implementation.