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AASHTO has named N.J. transportation commissioner John F. “Jack” Lettiere Jr.—commissioner of the New Jersey DOT—as its new president. Photo: AASHTO
Americans want federal investment in water

According to a recent poll, 86% of Americans believe that clean, safe water is a national issue that demands federal investment. The poll, conducted by the Luntz Research Companies and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, surveyed 900 adults; 77% would rather the federal government invest in water infrastructure than increase spending on entitlement programs (12%). The Bush administration has proposed to cut clean water funding from the EPA's budget for fiscal year 2006 from $8.1 billion to $7.6 billion. To achieve those numbers, the budget proposes a cut of $360 million (from $1.09 billion to $730 million) to the agency's Clean Water State Revolving Fund program.

House members object to blending proposal

A bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives urged the EPA to end a controversial policy to expand the use of “blending.” The process involves partially untreated sewage being diluted with fully treated sewage during unusually wet periods to lower the concentration of bacteria before being discharged. The 135 representatives argued that this practice would result in more pollution making its way into U.S. surface waters. Instead, the representatives stated, the EPA should enforce current regulations under the Clean Water Act and seek more funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, which provides loans and grants to states to finance wastewater treatment facility construction and upgrades.

AASHTO president named

John F. “Jack” Lettiere Jr., commissioner of the New Jersey DOT (NJDOT), has been named president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. He assumes the president's post held by J. Bryan Nicol, Indiana DOT commissioner, who resigned in January. Lettiere, who has been with NJDOT for 30 years, received a governor's appointment to commissioner in December 2002. As commissioner, he oversees 16,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $3 billion.

What are you doing to manage corridor transportation?

The U.S. DOT has posted a request for information on its Web site intended for public and private corridor management stakeholders, asking about their efforts and future initiatives aimed at keeping people and goods efficiently moving through the corridor. The Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration are working together to develop an Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) System, which will coordinate independent network operations between adjacent facilities to create an interconnected and interdependent system capable of cross network travel management. For more information, visit the ICM Web site at www.itsa.org/icm.html.

Court: Farm manure rules fail to protect water

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said it agreed with environmentalists, who claimed in lawsuits that the rules failed to provide meaningful review of plans developed by the farms to limit the pollution. The court said the rules imposed in February 2003 by the EPA were arbitrary and capricious and did “nothing to ensure” that each large farm was complying with requirements to control the pollution. Farms generate millions tons of manure each year, which carries pesticides, bacteria, viruses, trace elements of arsenic, methane, and ammonia to water sources.

Construction hiring to jump in early 2005

According to a recent hiring survey, the employment outlook for executive, professional, and sales people in the construction industry is on the rise. Of the executives responsible for construction hiring, 79.1% indicated plans to increase their staff in the first half of 2005. In addition, another 16.6% plan to maintain their current staff sizes, while only 4.2% plan decreases. For more information on the survey conducted by Management Recruiters International Inc., Philadelphia, visit www.mrinetwork.com.

Conference offers sessions on watershed management

The 2005 Watershed Management Conference, “Managing Watersheds for Human and Natural Impacts: Engineering, Ecological, and Economic Challenges” is scheduled July 19–22, 2005, in Williamsburg, Va. Topics range from state-of-the-art computer modeling, to field monitoring to watershed science, to governmental policy and regulation. For more information, visit www.asce.org.