While federal highway funding has reached one state stasis, American Road & Transportation Builders Association is continuing the push for a six-year $375-billion needs-based reauthorization bill and wont settle for political expediency.
The Washington, D.C.-based group wants the right reauthorization bill and that means adequate funding. But in an election year and faced with tight federal and state budgets, it may have to settle for a $299-billion minimum. Still, it continues to mobilize grass roots efforts for passage of a TEA-21 reauthorization bill that it hopes will significantly grow the construction market. That was the main message from incoming ARTBA chairman Richard E. Wagman at ARTBAs annual convention Sept. 8-11 in Boston.
Wagman is chairman & CEO of G.A. & F.C. Wagman, Inc, a 102-year-old family-owned York, Pa., road and bridge firm with annual revenue of about $70 million. His firm is currently involved in three different contracts totaling about $110 million on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project. Work centers around the Interstate-295 and State Route 210 interchanges in Maryland. "Well fight as long as it takes to get a good TEA-21 reauthorization bill," he says. "Our core mission is to grow the federal market and fund the highway bill."
To achieve his goals Wagman intends to continue ARTBAs "Transportation Makes America Work" campaign, which mobilizes industry leaders and employees for congressional lobbying. He is also recruiting future industry leaders into a young executive development council that will promote a new leadership corp.
Wagman recently completed a construction management scan tour of Canada and Europe to review procurement and management techniques. Another of his goals is to educate members on emerging industry issues such as alternative delivery systems and outsourcing trends such as highway maintenance, which he says could significantly expand the construction market. One major concern is safeguarding opportunities for small and medium-sized firms in the growing design-build market. Wagman is also continuing efforts to find equitable relief from rising material prices by possibly scrapping indexes and moving to an invoice-based system.
"The feds and states have offered to put escalators in going forward but that is a double-edged sword," he says. "An invoice-based system can be adjusted up or down and more accurately reflects actual market conditions."