June 2019

NACE Update from President Tim Hens

Hopefully by now summer has started for most of you. I know many parts of the upper Midwest and Northeast have been plagued by colder than normal temperatures and heavy rain. Here in Western New York the farmers have yet to get into fields and there is a real sense of panic setting in. I suppose it could be worse through as many of our friends in the Mississippi and Missouri River basins have been underwater for some time with severe flooding. Poor weather definitely makes an already short construction season even more challenging.

 


Back in May I had the privilege of representing NACE during Infrastructure Week. I participated in a panel discussing the challenges of funding infrastructure. The panel was jointly hosted by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National League of Cities (NLC). I was joined on the panel by Corina Lopez, Vice Mayor of San Leandro, CA; Carlos Gimènez, the Mayor of Miami-Dade County; and James McDonald, Councilman from Pinecrest, FL. The panel was kicked off by Senator Tom Carper (DE) and all of the panelists highlighted the increasing need for infrastructure funding and shared some ideas to improve the process. As your NACE representative, I highlighted our legislative priorities which include streamlining and the possibility of direct federal funding to counties. I was able to use one of my county’s locally-funded bridge projects as an example of what could be done if we can get the red tape out of the way.

Genesee County submitted Stroh Rd over the Tonawanda Creek for consideration of federal aid in 2011.  The project made the State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) and was funded at $2.2 million ($1.76 million in federal aid).  The project never got funded and slid into the 2014 STIP only to be cut during a rescission of federal aid in 2014. The County resubmitted Stroh Rd in 2017 (now inflated to $2.8 million) but the project was not selected. With the bridge flagged and with an ever-shrinking load posting, the County decided to move ahead on its own. Following state specifications for construction and adhering to all applicable federal and state laws, the County designed and delivered a bridge in less than one year at a total cost of just over $1.8 million; a savings of approximately 35%! NACE will continue to work with our elected representatives to help them understand this possibility.

Past President and NACE Urban County Engineer of the Year Brian Stacy also traveled to Washington, D.C. for Infrastructure Week. Brian ensured the NACE voice was heard regarding the continued conversation around Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS).

Last week, I was back in familiar Wisconsin Dells with the Wisconsin County Highway Association for their Summer Conference and my first State Visit as President. The conference is very well attended and I was impressed with their level of committee organization and reporting. The professional development sessions were well done and the hospitality suites were off the charts. Those of you who made the Dells for NACE 2018 would remember, or maybe…not? I was able to give a quick NACE update, but I have to say I really enjoyed my time just connecting with our peers in Wisconsin and making new friends. Thanks to Past President Mark Servi, Dan Fedderly and the gang in Wisconsin for being great hosts. I’m excited to continue my travels next week with a trip to Washington.

 

 

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