Better Roads

November 2013

Better Roads Digital Magazine

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TransportationTalk Editorial Editor-At-Large: Tina Grady Barbaccia Editorial Director: Marcia Gruver Doyle Online Editor : Wayne Grayson Could alternate energy sources help solve our funding problem? Online Managing Editor : Amanda Bayhi Production Editor: Lauren Heartsill Dowdle Editor Emeritus: Kirk Landers Truck Editor: Jack Roberts Construction Editors: Tom Jackson, Tom Kuennen, Dan Brown Design & Production Art Director: Sandy Turner, Jr. Production Designer: Timothy Smith Advertising Production Manager: Linda Hapner Construction Media Senior VP of Market Development, Construction Media: Dan Tidwell VP of Sales, Construction Media: Joe Donald Corporate Chairman/CEO: Mike Reilly President: Brent Reilly Chief Process Officer: Shane Elmore Chief Administration Officer: David Wright Senior Vice President, Sales: Scott Miller Senior Vice President, Editorial and Research: Linda Longton Vice President of Events: Alan Sims Vice President, Audience Development: Stacy McCants Vice President, Digital Services: Nick Reid Director of Marketing: Julie Arsenault 3200 Rice Mine Rd NE Tuscaloosa, AL 35406 800-633-5953 For change of address and other subscription inquiries, please contact: Better RoadsTM magazine, (ISSN 0006-0208) founded in 1931 by Alden F. Perrin, is published monthly by Randall-Reilly Publishing Company, LLC.© 2013. Executive and Administrative offices, 3200 Rice Mine Rd. N.E., Tuscaloosa, AL 35406. Qualified subscriptions solicited exclusively from governmental road agencies, contractors, consultants, research organizations, and equipment and materials suppliers. Single copy price $5.00 in U.S. and Canada. Subscription rate for individuals qualified in U.S. and Canada $24.95. Foreign $105.00. Special group rates to companies qualified in quantities over five names. We assume no responsibility for the validity of claims of manufacturers in any advertisement or editorial product information or literature offered by them. Publisher reserves the right to refuse non-qualified subscriptions. Periodical circulation postage paid at Tuscaloosa, Alabama and additional entries. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage retrieval system, without written permission of the copyright owner. For quality custom reprints, e-prints, and editorial copyright and licensing services please contact: Linda Hapner, (224) 723-5372 or POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 707.4.12.5); NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: send address corrections to Better Roads, 3200 Rice Mine Road N.E.,  Tuscaloosa, AL  35406. I t's time to get creative. With less than a year until our latest surface transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), expires on Sept. 30, 2014, the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) once again faces insolvency. It's currently projected to go negative again in 2015, with that balance growing rapidly each year, according to The Hamilton Project ( Increasing the gas tax doesn't look too promising at this point. And although implementing an effective user-free, road-pricing system could generate between $38 billion and $55 billion every year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), this potential funding mechanism has not moved forward. When asked whether the time has passed for "mega transportation bills" during the Construction Writers Association (CWA) annual meeting in late October, Dennis Slater, president and secretary of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), says, "I am an optimist. The House and the Senate do recognize the need [for transportation funding], but they can't figure out the funding mechanism. If they are able to find the right funding, with the partisanship we have, they'll vote against anything. If you say, 'user fee,' you can't get any traction." Now the nation is seeing an unprecedented sudden abundance of oil and gas with dramatic production increases. This energy revolution going on in the United States "will be a strong contributor to growth," says David Zwicke, senior regional economist with the Portland Cement Association. The shale phenomenon has fundamentally transformed the economy and could be a potential revenue source for the HTF. However, the method used in creating shale energy – hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. fracking – faces its own obstacles. Not only is it hotly contested, but regulations also stand in the way. Only about 12 percent is being produced on public lands, so a royalty can't be attached to it for drilling. There is "a lot of speculative conjuring" about the United State's energy boom somehow funding surface transportation, says Toby Mack, former president and CEO of Associated Equipment Distributors, now head of the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance. "There is a nexus between transportation and energy…a natural relationship between the two, but no one has figured out how to connect it all to help subsidize the road fund." Some regulations are important. However, when they impede progress or when we've found a potential revenue stream that could move our country forward and possibly aid in fixing our half-trillion dollar infrastructure funding problem, we need to encourage Congress to figure out a way to explore these options because they seem to have dismissed or tabled other options, by Tina Grady Barbaccia, Editor-At-Large and time is quickly running out. Better Roads November 2013 3

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