AASHTO Offering Five Transportation ‘Resiliency’ Webinars in December

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Resilient and Sustainable Transportation Systems technical services program is offering five webinars this December that focus on several key “resiliency” topics, from how to make highways and bridges more earthquake resistant to improve the cybersecurity defenses of state DOT information technology systems.

The topic of “resiliency” is much on the minds of many state DOT executives, noted Michael Lewis, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, in an interview with the AASHTO Journal back in August.

“What we’re trying to do is recognize that a major disruptive event – be it a snowstorm or a protest – is going to happen at some point,” he explained. “So it’s about learning how can we better plan, design, build, maintain, and operate our infrastructure in ways that minimize the impact of those disruptions.”

Cybersecurity is a critical “resiliency” topic as well, Lewis added, because cyberattacks can be very disruptive all on their own as the Colorado DOT discovered earlier this year. “We need to plan for it and develop tools to minimize and mitigate such events,” he said.

Here are the five resiliency webinars scheduled for December, with registration links included:

  • Seismic Resilient Highways: Monday Dec. 3 at 3 pm eastern standard time. This webinar highlights the Oregon DOT’s development of seismic resilient highway corridors and digs into the design details of US-97, the first seismic resilient corridor. Matt Garrett, Oregon DOT’s director, will describe the strategies his agency has put into place to build more “seismic resiliency” into the state’s roadways, including the development of higher bridge standards and a prioritization plan for bridges and corridors. Click here to register.
  • Building Organizational Resilience: Wednesday Dec. 5 at 3 pm EST. How do you create a resilient organization in the face of recurring extreme events? Shawn Wilson, Secretary of the Louisiana DOTD, will discuss how his agency addresses the issue of “hurricane fatigue” and how it continues to build up and refine its organizational resilience strategies. Click here to register.
  • Learning from Hurricane Florence: Monday, Dec. 10 at 3 pm EST. Leland Colvin, the South Carolina DOT’s deputy secretary for engineering, shares the lessons his agency learned from Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm that ripped through the Carolinas and caused severe flooding that was compounded by pre-existing ground saturation due to earlier summer floods. Click here to register.
  • Cyber Resilience: Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 3 pm EST. The transportation sector is the third most vulnerable sector to cyberattacks and Mike Lewis, executive director of the Colorado DOT will lead a discussion about what state DOTs should know regarding cybersecurity and how they can be better prepared to repel cyberattacks of various types. Click here to register.
  • The 2018 Transportation RISE Recap: Monday, Dec. 17 at 3 pm EST. Paula Hammond, WSP USA and the former secretary of the Washington State DOT, will guide a “closing summary” of AASHTO’s RSTS Resilience Webinar Series, as well as findings and lessons learned from state DOT CEOs who attended at the first annual Transportation Resilience Innovations Summit and Exchange. Click here to register.

Event Allows NH youth to Explore Construction, Transportation Careers

Union Leader Correspondent

Event Allows NH youth to Explore Construction, Transportation Careers

NEW BOSTON — Hundreds of students in New Hampshire left their classrooms on Thursday for a unique, hands-on experience in the fields of construction and transportation.

The two-day event kicked off on Thursday at the 4-H grounds of the Hillsborough County Youth Center Foundation where about 75 exhibits were on display teaching children about careers in welding, plumbing, surveying, electricity and more.

“The whole goal is to expose kids to the trades,” said Meghan Theriault, director of public works for Goffstown and one of the co-organizers of the 10th annual New Hampshire Construction Career Days. “I think the trades have been suffering, and we are trying to bring light to this issue.”

Not every high school graduate wants to attend a four-year college, according to Theriault, who stressed that many interesting careers are available with good pay and opportunities for advancement. Companies such as Paradigm Plumbing, Longchamps Electrical, EnviroVantage, Maine Drill, Methuen Construction and more were on hand to speak with students, answer questions and give them a chance to attempt some simple job tasks. Student participants were given the opportunity to test drive tractor-trailers, maneuver excavators, climb trees, make cobblestones out of granite and more.

“This was a lot harder than I thought,” Mason Bennett, a freshman from Alvirne High School, said after driving an excavator while attempting to pick up balls and place them into a bucket using the machine.

Jackson Parker of Reed & Reed General Contractors said the career day event is a great way to engage youth and get them thinking about their future.  “I worry about the age of our workforce all the time,” said Parker. “This gives young people a chance to explore all sorts of jobs that could eventually lead them to a successful career.”

More than 1,900 high school students from 54 middle and high schools are attending the event, which continues on Friday.  “It is fun to pick their brains a little,” said Paul Bedard of Pawjer Earth Products. Bedard brought several large pieces of granite salvaged from a construction project in Manchester to the event.  Teens had the chance to make cobblestones out of the large granite pieces.  Cody Crossland, a sophomore at Alvirne High School, said he was looking forward to Thursday’s field trip and learning more about the various careers in transportation.

“I have thought about entering the trades,” said Crossland, who enjoys working on trucks and dirt bikes.

The two-day event coincided with the launch of the Construction Sector Partnership within the New Hampshire Sector Partnership Initiative — an industry driven effort to help businesses address workforce needs focusing on construction, health care, hospitality, manufacturing and technology.  According to a release, New Hampshire’s construction sector represented about 32,000 jobs in 2017, with a projected 3 percent increase between 2018 and 2022. “About 22 percent of people working in this industry are age 55 or older and are expected to retire within the next 10 years, promising to create an extremely competitive recruiting landscape,” states the release.


Read the whole article at Union Leader

FMCSA eliminates requirement for military CDL holders to pass knowledge, driving skills tests

Military members looking to become truck drivers may have an easier time in doing so as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has authorized states to waive the commercial learner’s permit (CLP) knowledge test and driving skills tests. It does not direct the states to do so but allows each state to at its own discretion.

The ruling was announced in a Federal Register Final Rule this morning. Specifically, the rule states that “certain individuals who are, or were, regularly employed within the last year in a military position that requires, or required, the operation of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)” are eligible to skip the knowledge test portion of the CDL process. “This rule includes the option for an SDLA [State Driver Licensing Agency] to waive the tests required for a passenger carrier (P) endorsement, tank vehicle (N) endorsement, or hazardous material (H) endorsement, with proof of training and experience.”

Spc. Trey Dodds, a truck driver with the 110th Composite Truck Company, attaches a trailer to a vehicle as evening falls on Thursday, September 13. Soldiers worked into the night preparing vehicles for rapid deployment to hurricane-affected areas along the American East Coast.

The rule also states that certain drivers can be exempted from taking the driving skills test as well.

“This rule gives states the option to waive both the CDL knowledge and driving skills tests for certain current and former military service members who received training to operate CMVs during active-duty, National Guard or reserve service in military vehicles that are comparable to CMVs,” the rule states. “The combined effect of the Military CDL I rule and this rule will allow certain current or former military drivers, domiciled in participating States, to transition to a civilian CDL more quickly due to their armed forces training and experience.”

Many in trucking have viewed veterans as a key piece to help alleviate the driver shortage but concerns over the timeliness of that process and the inability of states to recognize veteran’s driving experience have slowed that process.

One of the factors that delay licensing is that CDL holders must pass requirements in their home states – which for military members is often not the state in which they are stationed.

The Military CDL I rule, issued in October 2016, sought to alleviate this by allowing states to extend up to 1 year the time a candidate has to apply for a test waiver after leaving the military. It also allowed the state where the military member is stationed to coordinate with the member’s home state on the knowledge or skills test.

This rule, first published on June 17, 2017 as proposed rule, received 17 comments, FMCSA said, with 15 in support. Among those submitting supporting comments was American Trucking Associations (ATA), the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), the Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE), the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), and the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA).

Many commenters felt the rule would reduce the burden to enter the industry, including the time it takes to become licensed, and help in recruiting efforts.

Read this article in full at freightwaves.com

Finding the Future Workforce for State DOT’s Becoming Tougher

With the unemployment rate hitting an 18-year low of 4 percent this July and “Baby Boom” generation workers now retiring at roughly 10,000 per day, industries across the United States are finding it harder to recruit and retain workers.

Roger Miller, Secretary of Transportation for Washington State DOT

A study released by consulting firm Korn Ferry in May predicts that a growing “skilled talent” shortage could impede global economic growth, which could result in 85.2 million unfilled jobs worldwide by 2030.

“The world can’t afford to have tens of millions of unfilled jobs,” noted Alan Guarino, vice chairman of Korn Ferry’s CEO and Board Services division, in a statement. “Companies must work to mitigate this potential talent crisis now to protect their future. If nothing is done, this shortage will debilitate the growth of key global markets and sectors.”

That labor shortage is beginning to felt more – and more acutely – within the state departments of transportation, as worker retirements can often result in a loss of valuable institutional knowledge as well.

“The one thing that concerns me most as a CEO, and what I am now spending a lot of my time on, is our workforce. Great men and women work for WSDOT but approximately half of them are eligible to retire today and the higher you go up the food chain, the more eligible they are to retire. The institutional memory that leaves us when they retire is really scary,” explained Roger Millar, secretary of transportation for the Washington State DOT, in a presentation July 17 at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 2018 Joint Policy Committee Meeting.

“So we are working hard to encourage the ones who can stay to stay and we are inviting more new people to join our world. But it is hard to compete with the likes of local employers like Microsoft – we can only pay half of what they pay,” he said. “So we offer flexible work schedules and internships. We are also looking at more diversity because we will be a multicultural community. It’s a demographic fact but also a huge opportunity for us. So we want our hiring practices to be inclusive.”

Matthew Garrett, director of the Oregon DOT, added in a separate speech at the policy meeting that technological change is also a factor re-shaping the workforce needs of the state DOT community.

“Technology threatens to remake every aspect of every company and industry that we deal with,” he stressed. “So you must ask yourself these questions – what do you foresee the most significant challenge to retraining workers for the new jobs of this brave new world? Is the private sector focused on that challenge? Is our educational system, which is built around four-year degrees up to the challenge in a world that needs continuous training?”

Garrett noted that this movement forward “can be exciting and refreshing” and lead to new ways of doing business. “But it also demands that we must adapt and support a culture that’s reimagining our work structure and learning platforms, that’s moving to continual education training and retraining across all portfolios within a state DOT,” he emphasized.

Shailen Bhatt, president and CEO of ITS America and the former executive director of the Colorado DOT, explained in an interview with AASHTO Journal on July 27 that “workforce issues have changed a lot” in the state DOT community, but in many cases for the better as there is more positive appeal for transportation jobs among younger workers.

Read more at AASHTOjournal.org

Transportation Reimagined: A Roadmap for Clean and Modern Transportation in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Region

Seven states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic plus Washington, D.C. have pledged to work together to rebuild their transportation system for the 21st century. Given the looming threat of climate change, it is clear that this system must be stronger, cleaner, and more equitable. This report offers a blueprint for such a system. In it, NRDC recommends walkable, bikeable streets and expanded, accessible public transit. We also recommend expanding electric cars, buses, trains, and even garbage trucks—with the charging infrastructure to keep them going. Lastly, we implore decisionmakers to prioritize vulnerable and historically marginalized communities, including the elderly, low-income communities, and communities of color.

Modernizing the region’s transportation system will require strong commitments and investments from regional, state, and local leaders. Businesses, government agencies, community organizations, and residents must be included in the discussion. But while the scale of our transportation challenges is large, the benefits of clean and modern transportation are enormous and well worth the effort. We encourage policymakers, residents, and businesses to think boldly. If done right, the region’s transportation modernization can become a beacon to the rest of the country and the world

To Download the full report, visit the National Resource Defense Council