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Marc Herbst, Exec Dir Long Island Contractors Assoc
July 11, 2008 @ 12:00 am EDT
This morning our speaker was Marc Herbst, Executive Director of the Long Island Contractors Association. Mark’s backround is deeply rooted in infrastructure technology and is uniquely suited to his position. The contractors that he represents are mostly interested in transportation projects.
Mark made reference to the great empires of the past and the emphasis they had on infrastructure. The Romans were able to build great systems that supported the cities of the empire. These systems were useful in housing, sanitation, and defense. America, and this region in particular, has stopped building the great infrastructure projects that make living in a region with many people viable. He referred to this allocation of resources as investment. Due to the transit investment of past generations New York City has the most energy efficient transportation of any state in the union, but we stopped building these tunnels bridges, and roads 40 years ago. We forgot what made us successful.
We spoke about the revenue sources for transportation and the shortsightedness of a gas tax "holiday". Without those sources of revenue our situation will be infinitely worse. The first gas tax that was implemented was in the state of Oregon. It was a wildly popular tax because it was dedicated to building modern roads for the newly invented automobile.
Mr Herbst pointed to other problems we are facing. A few years back we demanded that major construction should be done at night, which on the surface seems like a reasonable idea. However costs of working nights are much higher than daytime operations. As an example he cited the high lumen lighting stands burn a lot of fuel. The workers are paid a 25% night differential. When paying union rates these costs are substantial. In addition to that the gas tax is a per gallon fee. As people adjust to using less fuel, revenues drop. All of these factors and some I did not articulate will bankrupt the highway trust fund in one year. Clearly, this is unacceptable, and a new commitment to funding projects to make the region and the nation more efficient, and therefore more competitive with the world will be needed.
We spoke briefly about the rail/truck inter modal facilities. The transfer stations will take hundreds of thousands of tractor trailers off the Long Island Expressway and the George Washington bridge, which is the main conduit for these trucks. So far they have not been built because of local opposition and the total lack of leadership on the part of our elected officials. Too bad we can’t hire people in politics with a spine.
Pictured: Bill Miller, Ernie Fazio, and Mark Herbst