Wide range of industry topics and issues
discussed at CIRI Fall Dinner Meeting.

Rich Juliano of ARTBA was featured speaker at November 15 event.

The biannual CIRI dinner meetings are a valuable opportunity to review recent industry progress and discuss current issues on the local, regional and national levels. At the 2023 Fall Dinner Meeting at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, the opening welcome by CIRI President Mike D’Ambra began with a brief tribute to Tim Scanlon and a moment of silence in his honor — followed by the introduction of Ernie Carlucci as the new CIRI executive director.

Rich Juliano
ARTBA General Counsel & Managing Director

Established in 1902, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) brings together all facets of the transportation construction industry to responsibly advocate for infrastructure investment and policy that meet the nation’s need for the safe and efficient movement of people and goods. In his address to the CIRI membership, Rich Juliano covered a wide range of topics and issues.

“We have had an alliance with CIRI since 1981,” Juliano said. “So we’re very proud to have you as our chapter here.” In addition to ARTBA’s core mission of building the transportation construction market through federal funding, he recalled extended collaborative efforts with its chapters. This included sharing of information on safety and health protocols for covid throughout the pandemic to help keep projects moving.

Assessing IIJA results for RI on its two-year anniversary.

The 2023 Fall Dinner Meeting was exactly two years to the day after President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) into law on November 15, 2021. A five-year bill providing record levels of funding for infrastructure projects, the most significant facet of the IIJA for CIRI members are the dollars allotted for highway and bridge projects.

Using an array of charts, graphs and tables, Juliano highlighted key differences under the IIJA (also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) as compared with the previous FAST Act bill. These included:

  • A record 38% increase in overall federal highway dollars invested in the first year alone, compared to the last year of the FAST Act.
  • Continued year-after-year increases during the life of the bill
  • A total of $1.77 billion for Rhode Island over the five-year period to improve its roadway and bridge infrastructure network

Highway allotments by formula vs. discretionary grants.

During press events, the Biden administration tends to highlight discretionary grants. These grants only account for 13% of the highway dollars being distributed, while the rest are distributed to individual states according to proscribed formulas.

“Another important part of this is that 87% of the highway dollars are going out by formula,” Juliano explained. “So RIDOT is able to use (these monies) to reflect their priorities as the other states are. Not surprisingly (there’s) above-average use for maintenance in this state. You just have limited space to build out.”

Other developments being monitored by ARTBA.

Rich Juliano concluded by mentioning a number of legislative and logistical issues ARTBA is monitoring to ensure the transportation construction industry isn’t unfairly affected. These include proposed changes on the horizon for programs such as Buy America, DBE, Davis-Bacon Act enforcement, project labor agreements (PLAs) and environmental regulations. ARTBA is also taking a positive, proactive role in areas such as work zone safety and OSHA related initiatives.

“Our association with ARTBA has a wealth of benefits for the companies we serve,” says Ernie Carlucci, CIRI executive director. “Just as CIRI is proactive in protecting our members’ interests locally and regionally, the depth and breadth of ARTBA’s advocacy efforts represent those interests on the national level.”

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