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State and Province News October 2010
Posted By Brooke Wisdom On October 1, 2010 @ 6:00 am In Articles,Departments,State & Province News | No Comments
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The California Construction and Industrial Materials Association (CalCIMA) planned to celebrate the state’s geologic heritage at its 2010 Annual Education Conference themed “Our Mineral Heritage: More Relevant than Ever.” Held from Sept. 22-24 in San Diego, the conference highlighted policies that have influenced the promotion and management of the state’s geologic resources. According to CalCIMA, the conference coincided with the 150th anniversary of the California Geological Survey, which maps and identifies the state’s mineral resources, and the 125th anniversary of the State Mining & Geology Board, which develops mineral policy. “We are happy to join with the California Geological Survey, State Mining & Geology Board, and the Office of Mine Reclamation to celebrate their anniversaries,” said Gary Hambly, CalCIMA’s CEO and president. “They are integral to the protection and sustainable utilization of California’s geologic resources.”
Sen. Mike Bennet, a close ally of President Obama, announced his opposition to any new spending to try to start job creation. The Washington Post reports that Bennet, who narrowly won a Democratic primary, said that new spending on highways, railways, and airports — done through an infrastructure bank — would be too much spending. “I will not support additional spending in a second stimulus package. Any new transportation initiatives could be funded through the Recovery Act, which still contains unused funds,” he told the newspaper. “Public-private partnerships that improve our infrastructure are a good idea, but must be paid for, should not add a dime to the deficit, and should be covered by unused Recovery Act dollars. We must make hard choices to significantly reduce the deficit.” The Post says that “with endangered Democrats such as Bennet backing away from the infrastructure proposal, its already long chances of passage have grown a bit more problematic.”
Caterpillar Inc. urged Congress to work with the Obama administration on an infrastructure bill that would keep U.S. businesses globally competitive, the pjstar.com reports. Noting President Obama’s call for increased investment in the nation’s infrastructure through a multi-year national highway bill and its importance to the nation’s employment base and economy, Cat said bipartisan support should be given to such a bill. “Every week as I talk with our customers around the country, I hear from them that a long-term, multi-year highway bill for the United States is the fastest way to get more construction workers back on job sites,” Cat CEO Doug Oberhelman said in a news release. “In addition, as a nation, we are at risk of falling behind other countries who have made aggressive investments in infrastructure improvements in recent years, putting companies like Caterpillar at a competitive disadvantage.”
Granby Select Board members continued a public hearing on a proposed gravel pit’s permit application until Oct. 20. According to Gazettenet.com , it is the second time debate on Stone Hill Sand and Gravel’s application has been extended. At the first two meetings on the permit application, Select Board members heard local residents voice concerns about truck traffic, air pollution, and noise pollution. Resident Pamela Mahue presented members with one of two petitions submitted during its Aug. 31 meeting. Signed by 59 residents, it asked for a production limitation of 10,000 cubic yards, 10 percent of the requested production capacity. A second petition, signed by 236 residents, asked that the permit be decided by a vote of the Town Meeting. In addition to extending the public hearing, the Select Board members asked the operator for studies on noise, air quality, and truck traffic from the proposed operation.
By early October, the Jefferson County Council is expected to make a decision on a proposed sand and gravel mine, stltoday.com reports. More than 100 people attended a recent council meeting; most were opposed to the operation and cited concerns about property values, truck traffic, and noise. John and Krista Harness, siblings who proposed the operation, say none of those issues would be a problem.
The state’s Transportation Trust Fund Authority approved $1.75 billion in new and refunding bonds, using up almost all the borrowing capacity in the state’s main funding source for highway and mass-transit improvements. Bloomberg.com reports that the state transportation fund will run out of money for new projects by next year unless officials allocate new sources of revenue. Debt service on more than $12 billion in outstanding bonds is expected to account for most of the $895 million in annual revenue paid into the fund for the next 31 years. Gov. Chris Christie said he could renew the transportation trust fund without raising the state’s gas tax. Democrats are urging an increase in the tax, which is the third lowest rate in the nation.
The Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve zoning for a Toro Rock Product’s gravel pit in Las Cruces. According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, the commission attached eight conditions, including moving the processing plant 600 feet west (away from a nearby subdivision), planting a line of trees on the eastern boundary, and constructing a berm to serve as a wind block. In addition, the plant must shut down when wind speeds are greater than 20 miles per hour. The zoning case began last November when residents complained about quarrying to the county, and county planning staff found that the site didn’t meet a condition for being grandfathered into the county’s zoning code without the need for a zoning change.
Oswego County Highway Superintendent Kurt Ospelt asked the county government to explore the possibility of renting a portable crusher, valleynewsonline.com reports. With an anticipated cost of $37,500 for a month’s rental, Ospelt said the crusher could be used in conjunction with the county’s screening plants to produce crushed stone for use in asphalt paving along county roads. The county currently spends approximately $10 per ton of stone, as well as transportation costs. The crusher rental is projected to lower those costs to $3.25 per ton. The legislature’s Infrastructure and Facilities Committee approved the rental.
Knife River announced that it was the successful bidder on a combined $41 million in new highway work. The Central Texas Division was the low bidder on $19.3 million in work on four different Texas state highway projects, with the largest being $9.2 million on FM 148 in Kaufman County. Knife River – Central Minnesota was the low bidder on a $14.3 million job in Minnesota’s Renville and McLeod Counties to complete a reconstruct and hot-mix asphalt overlay on Truck Highway 212. The company’s newest division, the Yellowstone Division, was the low bidder on a Montana DOT project to reconstruct four miles of highway. Its bid was $7.7 million. “We continue to see many good projects coming our way through individual state DOTs,” said Knife River Corp. President and CEO Bill Schneider. “These jobs will keep our backlog strong and will provide good work for many of our employees next season.”
The Anderson Township Board of Zoning Appeal granted a conditional-use permit and variances to the Forest Hills Youth Football and Cheer Association to build temporary football fields and a parking lot on Martin Marietta Materials’ property. According to the Community Press, five conditions were attached to the permit, including a maintenance plan and compliance with stormwater and access management requirements from Hamilton County. “It’s a win-win for everyone,” Doug Evans, who leases the property from Martin Marietta, told the newspaper. Evans approached Martin Marietta about using the property in this way, and the company agreed as long as the plans complied with township zoning regulations.
Oklahoma will be ready with projects if President Obama gets Congress to pass a $50 billion plan to rebuild roads. That’s what Transportation Department Director Gary Ridley told newsok.com . Ridley held a meeting with field division engineers and designers to go over projects in the state’s eight-year construction work plan, which the commission approved in August, to make sure the state could act quickly if additional funds were available. Oklahoma received $465 million of the $787 billion stimulus package approved in 2009. The state’s share of federal monies funded 274 projects. Work has started on 257 projects and 148 were completed by the end of August. Contractors have been paid $376 million (81 percent) of stimulus money. Ridley noted that he would prefer Congress approve a long-term funding bill for transportation.
Kim Freeburn, owner of KD Sand & Gravel, Inc., recently diversified the business by adding U-Haul trucks and trailer rentals to the trucking, sand, and gravel company, the Statesman Journal reports. “I added U-Haul products and services because they would provide supplemental income,” Freeburn said of the change to the business, which was founded in 1949 by her grandfather and great uncle.
Officials in Myrtle Beach hope a Washington, D.C. rally will secure more funding for Interstate 73/74 in a long-term transportation reauthorization bill. The topic was expected to be discussed during a series of meetings planned by the National I-73/74 Corridor Association held from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, WIS News 10 reports. The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users secured more than $100 million for the project, including $81 million for the South Carolina portion of the project. Representatives from Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina are expected to strategize ways to secure additional funding for the project.
Infrastructure investment is expected to drop steeply throughout the state, with the exception of the Dallas area, the Dallas Morning News reports. The Texas Transportation Commission released a two-year spending plan that includes about $4.8 billion in contracts for 2011, but only about half that amount during 2012 as the federal stimulus funds disappear and the impact of the disappointing gas receipts is felt. In the state’s 15 transportation districts, only the Dallas district is expected to maintain stable funding. That is due, in large part, to the North Texas Tollway Authority, which paid $3.2 billion in upfront cash after winning the Sam Rayburn Tollway contract in 2007. During the next two years, an estimated $730 million of that money will be spent in the Dallas area.
Richmond-based Luck Stone Corp. entered into a purchase agreement to acquire the Jack L. Massie Aggregate Distribution Center located in Williamsburg, Va. The Massie family retains the construction business on the property and the more than 100 employees who work on the non-aggregate side of the business. Luck Stone will interview the employees who work on the aggregate side to determine if they will work for Luck Stone or remain with Massie. “This acquisition adds significant capacity to our market presence on the peninsula and is a great complement to our two other distribution yards in the South Hampton Roads region,” John Pullen, chief growth officer for Luck Stone Corp. and president of the construction aggregates division, said in a company announcement. Massie will concentrate on its core business of construction while providing its aggregate customers with additional resources.
The Washington State Department of Ecology updated its Sand and Gravel General Permit, which regulates water discharges from sand and gravel operations, quarries, and similar mining operations. It also covers concrete batch plants and hot-mix asphalt operations, as well as stockyards. Approximately 900 sites are covered by the permit, which takes effect Oct. 1. It is posted online at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/sand/index.html 
According to The Leader-Telegram, the Chippewa Falls City Council voted 4-2 to sell a 3.2-acre parcel to EOG Resources for its sand processing operations. The land sold for $56,000, or $17,500 per acre. The council rejected the sale of the parcel last year when the offer was $8,000. A representative for the aggregates operator told the council that the land will be used for rail cars, which will decrease the frequency of rail blockages on city streets. By putting the land back on a taxable basis, the sale also offers additional municipal revenue, he noted. The company became the chief investor in the sand plant in May, when it acquired its interests from Canadian Sand & Proppants.
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