An uphill battle for an underground issue
7. During emergency, more equipment choices available to operators because reduced hazard permits used of “un-approved” equipment;
8. Minimal need for certified mine rescue teams because local fire departments, or emergency services, are able to respond; and
9. Due to size of large open spaces, and mining methods, mechanical mine ventilation usually not required or is minimal; natural ventilation works well.
Sink or swim
A Knife River truck driver testifies before Congress that when it comes to a new highway bill, we’re just treading water — and it’s just a matter of time before we may drown.
Not having a new long-term surface transportation bill is like diving into water without ever having swum before, says Joyce Fisk, a belly dump driver for Minnesota-based Knife River Corp.
Fisk of Almelund, Minn., testified before the Federal Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at the end of March about the critical need for long-term federal highway funding. She was invited to testify by committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) after meeting him on the Minnesota I-35 paving job last summer. The job was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a.k.a. the stimulus, which Fisk credits for keeping her and her husband, Gene, working. Both are truck drivers for Knife River — Central Minnesota Division based in St. Cloud, Minn.
But the temporary fixes — the stimulus and the temporary funding extension for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) through the end of this year — won’t be able to sustain the industry. “It’s one thing to have an extension, but there is no security with it,” Fisk tells Aggregates Manager. “You can extend all you want, but it’s just a Band-Aid. You need a permanent fix. You can’t expect companies to go out and buy equipment or start a new business if there is nothing to rely on.”
She says the stimulus was good for a jumpstart to the economy, but that we need something to take things further.
“We need a long-term dedicated highway bill that will allow small companies a chance to rebuild and provide real jobs that will last,” Fisk said in her testimony. “Short-term bills are good for keeping a few companies afloat. A new funding bill can ease the congestion in big cities and heavily traveled highways. Funding for light rail transit can save time, money, and help clean up our environment.”
Fisk says she just represents a small part of those who would benefit from a dedicated highway bill such as the nearly half-trillion dollar, six-year bill that the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is calling for and that Oberstar backs.
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