December 2008 – AggBeat
Dr. William Buechner, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) vice president of economics and research, also testified at the committee meeting. According to an ARTBA news release, Buechner outlined a program of quick-start projects that he believes, with new federal investment, could immediately help spur job creation and economic recovery. “With a properly structured program…thousands of transportation construction projects across the nation are ready to go,” he said.
But Buechner was quick to add that recovery would be short-lived without increasing the revenue stream to the Highway Trust Fund after FY 2010. “While it is important to enact economic recovery and job creation legislation right now,” said Buechner, “I cannot stress strongly enough how it is also critically important that the Congress enact long-term legislation reauthorizing the federal surface transportation and aviation programs as soon as possible next year.”
Modern dance performed among the rocks
Thousands of people gathered in central Minnesota for a unique modern dance performance set among the rocks in St. Cloud Quarry, a granite quarry operated by Martin Marietta Materials Co.
Twenty-two dancers from the Merce Cunningham Dance Co. performed “Ocean” on a specially built stage at the bottom of the quarry, 150 feet below ground level. The program is rarely performed because of its need for a large venue in which the audience is surrounded with 150 musicians. The quarry provided a perfect setting for the performance, providing a beautiful backdrop and great acoustics.
“Placing art in natural, spectacular settings opens people up to new experiences,” said Philip Bither, performing arts curator at the Walker Art Center, in an interview with the Star Tribune. “It’s part of what contemporary art has tried to do through the last century – getting people to look at their everyday lives as magical and intriguing art. That setting takes your breath away.”
For three nights, spectators were ferried on buses down a specially constructed road to the bottom of the quarry. All three performances were sold out weeks in advance and received rave reviews from critics who came from as far away as New York and Los Angeles.
In an interview with the newspaper, Mark Johnson, Martin Marietta’s regional vice president, said, “We’re supposed to be breaking rock this time of year, so this is a new step for us, but the industry is trying to be more open about showing people what we do.”
MSHA emphasizes safety
The Mining Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) posted a new safety alert on its Web site. The alert reminds bulldozer operators and employers about the hazards involved in operating a dozer and the need for training, adequate illumination, seat belts, and proper maintenance. A bulldozer operator’s death on Oct. 22 after the machine rolled sideways down an 80-foot slope was the fourth accident in five weeks where an operator was either fatally injured or suffered serious life-threatening injuries, the agency said.