Surface treatments for LEED certification

That and other topics, such as how dual-layer porous friction courses improve drainage and highway noise, will be covered during the National Center for Asphalt Technology's third Pavement Test Track Conference Feb. 9–11, 2009, at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel and Conference Center in Alabama. Registration begins in November. Visit www.ncat.us.

Govs to feds: Pony up

One of the goals of new National Governors Association Chair Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania is to align infrastructure investment with efforts to fight climate change. “For two decades, state and local governments have picked up more of the tab for repair, which now accounts for 75% of all infrastructure work. If we're to fully meet his challenge, we need our federal partners to step up and make this a greater priority.” Visit www.nga.org.

Cost of highway construction up 19%

The Producer Price Index for construction materials and fuel is 10.4% higher than it was a year ago, says the Associated General Contractors of America. In the first two weeks of July, asphalt prices rose 40% in some parts of the country, rebar soared to $200/ton, and diesel hit a record $4.76/gallon. In the futures markets, natural gas prices have doubled from a year ago, triggering price increases in construction plastics—such as polyvinyl chloride pipe—that use natural gas as feedstock.

Unskilled labor costs up 12%

The federal minimum wage rose from $5.85/hour to $6.55/hour in July, but employers in Washington State, California and Massachusetts, and Illinois are paying $8.07, $8, and $7.75, respectively. The federal wage rises to $7.25/ hour on July 24, 2009.

311 + 911 = top response

After proving last year that 311 call centers lessen nonemergency calls to 911, the International City/County Management Association is working with the Community Research Council to find out how centralized customer service systems and 911 can integrate to provide emergency response and measure resident satisfaction with 311 systems. Visit www.icma.org/311study.

Landfills add to global warming

Arguing that gas-capture systems aren't an effective strategy for preventing methane emissions, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives' “Stop Trashing the Climate” report recommends instead that cities and counties develop plans to achieve “zero waste” within 20 years. Visit www.stoptrashingtheclimate.org.

U.S. Senate shores up highway funding

The Appropriations Committee's $66.8 billion transportation legislation would restore SAFETEA-LU's original obligation of $41.2 billion in 2009 and transfer $8 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to keep it from becoming insolvent next year. The bill must be reconciled with the U.S. House of Representatives' proposal before going to President Bush.

Biodiesel curbs transformer fires

ComEd is one of 100 utilities replacing petroleum-based coolant with the 100% biodegradable soybean oil-based coolant FR3, distributed by Cooper Power Systems. With a flash point two times higher than petroleum's 311° F, biofluids haven't caused a fire in the 20 years they've been on the market, according to industry coalition STEP UP: Safer Transformers, Environmental Protection, Upgraded Performance.

PUBLIC WORKS quick-poll says …

Do you use text-messaging to communicate at work? 77% say no. Go to www.pwmag.com to weigh in on our next quick poll.

WaterEC dates announced

The first international gathering of water conservation managers and vendors will be held March 30–April 2, 2009, in Newport Beach, Calif. The convention features four program tracks: source development and protection, supply storage and conveyance, indoor/outdoor use, and resource management.