nevada highway users coalition
May 7, 2010
Dear Highway User:

Like other parts of the country, Nevada is experiencing substantial savings on not just highway construction, but on all public works. This has resulted from the most competitive bidding environment in nearly four decades.

While the media has dubbed this economic cycle as ”the great recession”, many in Nevada’s construction industry refer to it as nothing less than a construction depression. While it has caused grief for many in our industry, it presents opportunity for public agencies and our elected representatives, who are the custodians of our hard earned tax dollars.

The Nevada Department of Transportation alone has identified between $8 and
$10 billion in immediate needs. The recent passage of SB 5 in the special session of the legislature has authorized additional bonding authority of $400 million for Clark County RTC, while the passage of RTC 5 in Washoe County last year will enable the RTC $250 million for roads over the 3 years (2009-2011).

Early results of local projects bid this spring in Northern Nevada are frequently bringing savings of 40% or more from the engineer’s estimates.

The Nevada Department of Transportation is also experiencing similar savings on projects funded through ARRA stimulus funds. Construction unemployment in Nevada remains second only to the depressed state of Michigan. Contractors competing for work are shaving profits, overhead and labor costs to keep their skilled employees and equipment working.

While the competition for public funds for construction is intense, this downturn provides an opportunity. Our elected officials can cut costs and find efficiencies to generate revenues to support public works bonds now, while the fire sale is on and prices on bids are low. As taxpayers, we must take advantage of these bargains. These savings will avoid or reduce future increases to our taxes, reducing what is needed to pay for these projects.

After all, no matter how difficult the economy is at this present time, it will eventually improve. Let’s hope we don’t have to look back at a missed opportunity to take advantage of these bargains on public works. This is the time for our elected representatives to reduce costs and find new efficiencies to help fund these projects. Let’s lessen the burden of our children and grandchildren of paying for their future public works needs.

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin…..”a billion saved is a billion earned.

The Nevada Highway User’s Coalition

Did You Know?
In 2008, nearly 6,000 people died in crashes that involved distracted driving. Distracted driving applies to anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the steering wheel, or interrupts your concentration while driving.
National Highway Safety Transportation Administration
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Photo credit: Bloomberg News
Construction Work on National Highway 1, in Amritsar, India. (Story below)

Partnering- Our Way of Doing Business
Guest Column- Susan Martinovich, Director NDOT

Nevada transportation needs and project environmental, design and construction requirements have become more complex. Meanwhile, funding becomes increasingly limited. To continually produce top projects under the circumstances, NDOT and the Associated General Contractors (AGC) have developed a new Partnering Program.

“As with any large undertaking, the sheer magnitude and complexity of road projects can sometimes cause delays, differing views, even lawsuits, on certain areas of construction,” NDOT Assistant Director of Operations Rick Nelson said. “NDOT and contractors work together closely to prevent potential issues. The partnering program will further formalize ways to reduce construction delays and build the best project.”

To accomplish this, all NDOT projects over $10 million will utilize mandatory partnering. Periodic partnering meetings and joint problem-solving will be part of the program, along with construction performance measures and formal dispute resolution procedures to help quickly resolve issues before they impact project cost or completion. An annual awards ceremony will recognize projects which successfully exhibit partnering principles.

“We already have many successful projects where partnering has been used to build a higher-quality project more quickly and efficiently,” Nelson said. “The partnering program will formalize the partnering process to jointly develop high-quality projects at a savings.”

Infrastructure Push in China and India
Upgrading infrastructure has fueled rapid economic growth in the world's most populous country, China. Hope is springing once again that the second-most-populous country, India, might follow the same path. To avoid disenchantment, India will need to work extra hard to get support from investors at home and abroad, and to deliver on past promises. Click here to read more.

Nevada Updates

Road Funding: The Squeeze is On
Funding for roads and other basic funding is a front and center discussion as everything from vehicle miles traveled to different street repair strategies are being bandied about.

While state and local budgets are feeling the economic squeeze, the fuel tax at the pump funding strategy is being pushed from another direction; the federal government’s new vehicle efficiency mandates.

With Education, Voters Will Support Road Work
It will be a record year for regional road work in the Truckee Meadows thanks to a voter-approved gas tax indexing. The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County credits the money from motor fuel taxes approved by voters in 2008. The $90 million for more than 30 projects on about 50 streets, compares with $51 million for 25 projects in 2009. Click here to read more.

The L.A to Vegas Train Play Has Several Characters
The high speed and low speed train proposals continue to be produced, while Nevada officials question Federal transportation spending priorities.

A Spanish-Amtrak partnership is planning a $99 L.A. to Vegas train that could begin next year. Funding for a bypass to battle freight train traffic however, is still in limbo. Click here to read more.

National Updates
Silver Lining in Recession...Lower Highway Project Bids
Taxpayers and government agencies that administer projects are seeing bargin prices on projects. Click here to read more.

Georgia Legislation: A Future Funding Model?
More than three years in the making, the Georgia Legislature has approved a regionalized model that puts voters in the driver seat of a sales tax that would go toward transportation projects and transit funding. Click here to read more.

It may be a just in time solution as Atlanta metro faces some of the nation’s worst traffic chokepoints. Click here to read more.

Fed Say No to Penn. Toll Plan
The federal government’s rejection of Pennsylvania’s attempt to charge tolls on portions of I-80 has put the funding question front and center for the state’s lawmakers. Gov. Ed Rendell plans to convene a special session of the Legislature to figure new ways to generate at least $472 million a year to improve roads, bridges and public transit. Click here to read more.

Poor Road Conditions Contribute to Highway Fatalities
More than half of the 43,000 annual U.S. highway fatalities are related to poor roadway conditions and the staggering cost to America is $217 billion annually, according to testimony delivered to an April 14, U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on improving transportation safety. Crashes related to road deficiencies cost American businesses $22 billion, governments $12 billion, and result in $12 billion in medical spending annually. Click here to read more.

International Update
Transportation Systems Challenged by Volcanic Ash
Iceland’s unpronounceable volcano showed the world’s dependence on airline travel and the trickle down to transit systems when the skies can no longer be flown. Click here to read more.

nevada highway users coalition