« PreviousContinue »
This is certainly a sad commentary. One would normally expect that local governments would tend to handle the simple jobs with their own resources and would look for Federal help on those projects presenting more complicated problems. However, Federal aid only multiplies the complications and also adds to the total cost of the project.
From the standpoint of a county official, it often appears that offcials in Washington fail to understand that county governments are responsible for the improvement and maintenance of many thousands of miles of roads. Much of this system is obsolete and in urgent need of upgrading in order to carry heavier traffic volumes. May I inject that the most important road to any individual is the road in front of his home.
We need to stretch our highway dollars in order to improve as many miles of roadways as we possibly can with available funds. Considering the Federal-aid highways alone, it would take about 40 years, at the present rate of progress, to improve every mile of road. In other words, the average Federal-aid road is 40 years old before its turn comes for reconstruction and modernization. I am sure that the cycle is even longer for non-Federal aid roads.
In recent years, the general thrust of Federal policy has been to spare no expense to make sure that Federal-aid construction is of the highest quality, particularly with respect to safety standards, landscaping and community impact. The obvious effect of this policy is to build fewer miles of roadway, but to build them to much higher standards.
There is also another effect, somewhat less obvious. In order to make sure that high standards are met, detailed regulations are issued. Following these regulations to a T not only increases cost but also stifles innovation. If we had a better idea in Harford County, we would find it extremely difficult to obtain Federal concurrence.
The 1970 Federal Aid Highway Act provides, in section 142, for the application of value engineering procedures on Federal-aid projects. The term "value engineering" is applied to any one of several techniques for encouraging cost-cutting suggestions. To date, this section of the 1970 act has not yet been implemented. However, it will be very difficult to feed cost-cutting suggestions into the Federal machinery.
We would find it much easier to construct a project involving innovative thinking by ignoring Federal aid and using county money and State funds. It is not feasible for us to apply for Federal aid for small urban projects. The 50 percent Federal share of such projects would not, in some cases, cover the additional costs entailed in meeting Federal criteria.
I have been speaking mainly from personal experience in Harford County, Md. However, the views I have expressed are shared, to a large extent, by other members of the county division of the American Road Builders' Association. We need Federal aid and that point should be made clear. We are obviously falling behind in our road improvement programs. Yet, for many of us, Federal aid is pricing itself out of the market.
In closing, let me refer to several examples of the problems of redtape as expressed by other county engineers.
I have taken three examples, one from Prince George's County right next to the Capitol, Montgomery County right adjacent to Prince Georges County, and from the State of Maryland.
Federal aid became so unpopular in our State that the County Engineers Association of Maryland had legislation passed relative to the secondary funds. This legislation allows each county the right to release their proportion of the Federal secondary funds to the State roads commission, who in turn make available a like amount of State funds to the county for construction purposes.
This program has certain conditions which are agreeable to both parties and encourage rather than discourage the use of these funds.
This program relies on the integrity and knowledge of the local engineer, who best knows the needs of his local road network and how it can best be accomplished within available funding. This program has been so successful that efforts are being made now to include the urban funding in this same program.
I would only like to take excerpts out of a letter from John Marburger, who is a personal friend, and director of public works in Prince Georges County. He states:
We awarded the contract for Brightseat Road, a $380,000 Federal Aid Secondary Project, on November 2, 1965. On June 29, 1967, the Bureau of Public Roads issued I.M. 21-11-67 (1) which indicated A.A.S.H.O. safety requirements were to be applied to Federal Aid Projects placed under construction after January 1. 1968. At the final inspection of this project, after construction was complete, the Bureau raised the question of pole location and the project has not yet been acceptably resolved due to this issue.
Let me take another one. He has listed five such items.
Oxon Hill Road, a $760,000 project, was programmed with temporary paving improvement in the vicinity of the Indian Head Highway-Capital Beltway Interchange. Since improvements to the Interchange necessitated reconstructing a considerable length of Oxon Hill Road, it was proposed, and approved in the programming stage, to eliminate permanent paving in this area. During the plan review for the project, demands were made by the bureau to improve the section which was to be relocated, and as a result we were forced to drop this project from Federal aid participation and now propose to do the construction solely with county funds. Another factor in the decision was the extremely wide grading section, made necessary by the safety requirements, on uncurbed sections of the roadway.
I will give you copies to be placed in the record.
It appears that where counties have adopted master plans after public hearings, then the need for a corridor hearing or extensive advertising of route selection could be eliminated and we could go right to a design hearing without delay.
Gentlemen, I thought that these examples close to home would be interesting. I have other examples of delays from other counties in the State and in the country which I would like to submit and be made a part of the record.
I thank you very much for the opportunity to come before the Committee.
Mr. KLUCZYNSKI. Thank you, Mr. Hajzyk, for the splendid statement. You have appeared before the Public Works Committee time and again. You have always done a fine job. We are very happy to have you here this morning. Did you say you had something to put
1 This material is included in the appendix beginning at page 640.
in the record ? From what I understand, the record will be open for at least 30 more days. So if you have any added testimony or statement to make, Mr. Miller, you may send them in to the committee.
Mr. MILLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We do have additional documentation we would like to submit for the record.
Mr. KLUCZYNSKI. Are there any questions of-does that complete the presentation of your panel!
Mr. MILLER. Mr. Chairman, if I may, in conclusion, in an effort to give our testimony as much breadth as possible, I would like to state that within the past month we had a regional meeting in the State of Mississippi at which 28 States were represented which included a crosssection of the industry. While the testimony here, of necessity, used examples in a few States and some counties, our testimony here today, sir, reflects the consensus and the position of the representatives of the 28 States who were at that meeting. And I would like to submit for the record a list of those States, if you please, sir.
Mr. KLUCZYNSKI. Fine, without objection. (The material referred to is as follows :) Registrants for the AASHO-ARBA Public Information Workshop at Biloxi, Miss., May 25–27, 1971, included representatives of industry and government from the following states :
Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Mr. KLUCZYNSKI. Mr. Miller, it is always a pleasure to have you before this committee. As I said before, it is you and the American Road Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors that have done something wonderful in appearing before this committee in 1955 and 1956 when we enacted the largest undertaking in the world, the now 42,500-mile Interstate Highway System. We anticipated, as you know, in those days the expenditure of about $27 billion; I understand it is now close to $70 billion.
We are looking for a target date or the completion date which was stretched from 1972. I believe that was a 16 year program from 1956 to 1972. I hope we can complete it by 1975, if possible. It is about 75 percent complete.
I want to thank you. Any questions? Mr. D'Amico.
Mr. D'AMICO. Mr. Teer, you indicated that very often there is delay in paying contractors for work performed. Does this delay in any way contribute to the delay in planning or construction of other highways?
Mr. TEER. Well, directly, yes, sir; it affects the contractor's financing ability. We are not like the large corporations that have access to funding, and we need the funds in order to carry out other work. So it delays the contractor from being able to acquire new equipment or undertake new projects that he needs to finance out of moneys tied up on the old job.
I would think, also—and I am not familiar in detail with the highway department problems—but I would think that the people that
1 A 1965 diagram showing 36 instances where Federal approval is required in advancing a project to construction status is retained in subcommittee files.
they have pushing the papers around, so to speak, in preparation of the final estimate could be doing other things more efficiently if they were not taking a year to come up with the final numbers.
Possibly, there could be better use of computers or more lump sum types of payment items, or different payment items--many things, I think, that could be done to relieve the man-hours that are necessary or that are presently being used in development of final estimates.
Mr. D'AMICO. I understand that the majority of the members of the association are actually small contractors. Does the delay of payment to the contractors in any way contribute to what I understand is a large number of them each year being forced out of business!
Mr. TEER. That is a contributing factor, sir, because you have to have your funds in order to undertake a new project. We are required to be bonded and bonds are not available to each and every person unless they have a certain liquidity, to show that when you need the funds to meet your payrolls and buy your materials, that those funds will be available.
Mr. D'AMICO. Does this, in turn, then lead to a lack of as much competition as there might be in the industry?
Mr. TEER. It certainly leads to a great turnover in competition. And I think our industry has about the highest mortality rate in the Nation as far as the longevity of contracting firms is concerned. As you mentioned, I think the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of contractors are small contractors.
Mr. D'Amico. You indicated a cost comparison on a Federal aid project and a State project, and you indicated, I believe, that the cost may be as much as 30-percent higher on a Federal aid project. Is that right? Is that your testimony?
Mr. TEER. That was in my written testimony. I left that out of my verbal testimony because I did not have sufficient data to prove that from a contractor's point of view. We do know, as these flow charts on the wall show, that it takes month after month in the highway department category; that is cost, every day costs money.
Mr. D'AMICO. I was just wondering, Mr. Teer, whether you can make a similar kind of comparison as to time, whether there is a difference in the time necessary to complete a Federal aid project as compared to a non-Federal aid project? Is there an increase in the amount of time!
Mr. TEER. Yes, sir; there is an increase because wo don't generally go through the long checklist of delays in waiting on a decisionmaking process that has to flow back through to the Bureau; you eliminate a step entirely, so it is a time-saving device.
Mr. D'AMICO. Would you have any reasonable guesstimate of how much time we are talking about?
Mr. TEER. No, sir; I do not think I could say anything that is realistic, but obviously there is a time savings.
Mr. D'AMICO. Mr. Hajzyk, in your statement you indicate that:
In recent years, the general thrust of Federal policy has been to spare no expense to make sure that Federal-aid contruction is of the highest quality, particularly with respect to safety standards, landscaping and community impact. The obvious effect of this policy is to build fewer miles of roadway, but to build them to much higher standards.
Are you taking issue with that effect!
Mr. HAJZYK. I am taking issue that in the rural counties where the intent of the ABC program was to improve the farm-to-market roads and to get the farmer out of the mud, this issue has been overlooked, and I think that we are trying to apply too high a standard to those rural roads.
We think that the engineer there knows what the problem is, and he knows the volume of traffic. He also knows if he can get 3 miles of road for every dollar spent today. We think that the criteria
for the Federal money is such that we forego it and take State aid. We can modify our standards so that we get 3 miles of improved road rather than 1.
And we feel that the safety in the improving these 3 miles of road will more than offset the improvement that would be only included in 1 mile of road under the Federal standards. This is our thinking.
Mr. D'Amico. Which are the standards you eliminate in the 3-mile road as compared to the standards which would be integrated in the 1 mile?
Mr. HAJZYK. Shoulder width, base paving and design. We feel that we know the type of traffic and the volume of traffic. We know what it is and we modify the design so that we can get the best for every dollar that is invested.
To require such high standards for a traffic volume of 50 cars per day, we say we can do it on our own and modify these Federal standards to a point that we still accomplish what we are after.
We would love to have the wide shoulder. We would love to have everything that is included, but for every dollar that we receive, we have to match a local dollar, and, gentlemen, the highway department is secondary when it comes to funding on a local level. After the schools get through, there isn't must left than can be given to any other department.
So we are trying to stretch our dollar. If we can get 3 miles of road instead of one, this is what we have to do.
Mr. TERRY. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. TERRY. I would like to ask Mr. Teer a question. We can certainly agree, after hearing much of the testimony, with your statement that the regulations and the compliance with the Federal and State regulations is an enormous undertaking. Do you find instances where the State and the Federal regulations are contradictory?
Mr. TEER. On the same project?
Mr. TEER. No, sir; I don't think I could give you an example in that area.
Mr. TERRY. All right, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KLUCZYNSKI. Let the record show that we have with us this morning one of the great men, one of the founders, the father of the Interstate Highway System. I was on the committee with him then. We had extensive hearings for about a year and a half or two years.
He is in our midst now, and he is still interested in good highways. George Fallon, our former chairman, one of the greatest. George, it is a pleasure to have you with us here this morning.