Category Archives: Infrastructure

Development and application of a noise‐hazard scheme for road maintainers

Source: Jennifer M. Cavallari, Jennifer L. Garza, Jackie DiFrancesco, Alicia G. Dugan, Erica D. Walker, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: January 18, 2020

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From the abstract:

Background: Transportation road maintenance and repair workers, or “maintainers,” are exposed to hazardous and variable noise levels and often rely on hearing protection devices (HPD) to reduce noise‐exposure levels. We aimed to improve upon HPD use as part of the HearWell program that used a Total Worker Health, participatory approach to hearing conservation.
Methods: Full‐shift, personal noise sampling was performed during the routine task of brush cutting. Work activities and equipment were recorded and combined with 1‐min noise measures to summarize personal noise‐exposure levels by equipment. Using noise‐monitoring results, HPD noise reduction ratings, and input from worker‐based design teams, a noise‐hazard scheme was developed and applied to the task and equipment used during brush cutting.
Results: Average (standard deviation) and maximum Leq 1‐minute, personal noise‐exposure levels recorded during brush cutting included chainsaws at 92.1 (7.6) and max of 111 dBA, leaf blowers at 91.2 (7.5) and max 107 dBA, and wood chipper at 90.3 (7.3) and max of 104 dBA. The worker‐designed noise‐hazard scheme breaks down noise exposures into one of three color bands and exposure ranges: red (over 105 dBA), orange (90‐105 dBA), or yellow (85‐90 dBA). The scheme simplifies the identification of noise levels, assessment of noise‐hazard, and choice of appropriate hearing protection for workers.
Conclusion: Combining noise‐exposure assessment with intervention development using participatory methods, we characterized noise exposure and developed an intervention to educate and assist in protecting workers as they perform noisy tasks.

Flat debt total signals cautious borrowing, despite infrastructure needs

Source: Ted Hampton, Chandra Ghosal, Emily Raimes, Nicholas Samuels, Timothy Blake, Moody’s, Sector Profile, State government – US Medians, June 3, 2019
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Total net tax-supported debt (NTSD) for the 50 states was virtually unchanged in 2018, as governments maintained a cautious approach to bond issuance and increased their reliance on operating revenue for transportation infrastructure. The $523 billion in NTSD marked the eighth straight year with minimal change, putting average annual growth at 0.6% since 2011.

Safety climate, hearing climate and hearing protection device use among transportation road maintainers

Source: Jennifer M. Cavallari, Katrina A. Burch, Jeffrey Hanrahan, Jennifer L. Garza, Alicia G. Dugan, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: May 19, 2019
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From the abstract:
Background:
It is important to understand workplace factors including safety climate that influence hearing protection device (HPD) use. We sought to investigate the association between HPD use, safety climate, and hearing climate, a new measure specific to hearing.

Methods:
A survey was developed and distributed among transportation “maintainers” who perform road maintenance and repair. A new hearing climate measure was designed by adapting a safety climate measure. HPD use was assessed by asking workers how often they wear HPD while in noise. The differences in safety climate and hearing climate were compared by the frequency of HPD use using analysis of variance.

Results:
Among 166 maintainers, 54% reported always or almost always wearing HPD while noise exposed. High‐frequency HPD users reported a statistically significant higher safety climate (P = 0.004) and hearing climate (P = 0.003).

Conclusions:
Hearing climate predicts the frequency of HPD use and may be a useful measure when assessing and improving hearing conservation programs.

America’s schools are crumbling – what will it take to fix them?

Source: Michael Addonizio, The Conversation, March 5, 2019

….Indeed, miserable conditions like these are not only hard on the children. They seriously impair school districts’ ability to retain their most valuable asset – their teachers. Teachers leave their jobs for a variety of reasons, but facility quality is a key factor.

Addressing the infrastructure needs of America’s public schools will be costly. However, continuing to ignore them would be even more costly. The educational impact of substandard facilities on students cannot be overstated…..

….Funding for public education, including school facilities, is primarily a state and local matter. But while most states have tried to help poor local districts with basic operating expenses – such as paying teachers and buying supplies and materials – state support for school infrastructure has been much less reliable.

Local districts vary widely – usually along lines of race – in their ability to build or renovate schools. Property-poor districts, including most big city districts, are left behind……

How electric cars could make America’s crumbling roads even worse

Source: Jay L. Zagorsky, The Conversation, February 25, 2019

…. To fix the potholes and crumbling roads, federal, state and local governments rely on fuel taxes, which raise more than US$80 billion a year and pay for around three-quarters of what the U.S. spends on building new roads and maintaining them. ….

….If sales continue at this breakneck pace, electric cars will become mainstream in no time. In addition, governments in Europe and China are actively steering consumers away from fossil fuels and toward their electric counterparts.

In other words, the time will come very soon when the U.S. and individual states will no longer be able to rely on fuel taxes to mend American roads…..

U.S. Transportation Infrastructure 2019 Sector Outlook: Mostly Stable, Despite Expected Slower Growth And Unlikely Investment Package

Source: S&P Global Ratings, January 17, 2019
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S&P Global Ratings’ 2019 outlook for business conditions and credit quality across most U.S. public transportation infrastructure sectors, including airports, ports, federal grant-secured, and parking, is stable. We are maintaining our positive outlook for the toll road and bridge sector and revising our outlook for the mass transit sector to negative from stable.

Infrastructure: Elixir for Long-Term Pension Liabilities?

Source: Daniel Bauer, PA Times, January 4, 2019

Two primary drivers critically impacting both budgetary considerations and public policy processes for the foreseeable future regardless of revenue and service selection are pension liabilities and infrastructure. One tends to be historical in context while the other is futuristic in its scope. Both pension liabilities and infrastructure face headwinds. Both issues transcend interest groups. Both issues potentially advocate fairness and social equity across a broader spectrum of citizens arguably more so than others.

In this continuing series of articles exploring public infrastructure, the combination of unfunded liabilities for both public pension funds (estimates range from US$1-$3 trillion) and infrastructure (estimates ranging from US$1-$5 trillion) conjure up public policy and financial dilemmas constraining even effective discourse. Over the long-term, as difficult as it is to imagine, maybe one unfunded liability poses an opportunity to resolve the other unfunded liability. Can infrastructure be an elixir for long-term pension liabilities? ….

Infrastructure Investment and the Federal Government

Source: CRS In Focus, November 19, 2018

The condition and performance of infrastructure are generally thought to be important for the nation’s health, welfare, and economy. More contentious are the optimal level of infrastructure investment, the effectiveness of this investment, and the appropriate role of the federal government. The current federal role in infrastructure investment is important but limited in size and scope.

Large, established toll road systems are better positioned for the next recession

Source: Maria Matesanz, Eriq Alexander, Kurt Krummenacker, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, July 17, 2018
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Large road systems will experience more stable traffic and revenue trends in a recession than smaller or less well established systems, based on our analysis of their performance during and after the last recession. From a financial and operational standpoint, we expect larger toll roads to maintain steady traffic growth and performance with minimal negative credit effects associated with typical traffic and toll revenue drops seen during recessions. We define large, established toll roads as those that operate multiple assets and have been in operation more than 15 years….