VTCA Co-Hosts Regional Legislative Breakfast on Transportation Construction Issues

November 30, 2021

VTCA members and staff co-hosted a breakfast with several legislators from Northern Virginia last week with other local transportation construction groups HCCA, ABC and the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance (NVTA) to discuss upcoming transportation issues in the 2022 Legislative Assembly. It will be a much different environment in Virginia than the past two years with Republicans in control of the House and Democrats in control of the Senate. The nearly sold-out event provided members with the opportunity to talk with their legislators on a variety of issues. VTCA and its Legislative Committee are hard at work and dedicated to being the voice for our membership by meeting and speaking with elected officials, state agencies and local governments and pushing for significant changes.

We highlighted the positive impact of sustainable transportation funding needs in Virginia to ensure people, goods and services get to their intended destinations. These legislators know transportation infrastructure is an investment in the region’s future. The Northern Virginia area is forecast to gain more than 1 million new jobs and residents over the next two decades.

This year we discussed the fact that over 96% of construction work in Virginia is conducted by non-union firms. As such, the implementation of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) can cause higher prices on projects, delays and is often seen as anti-competitive since many firms will not participate in a mandatory PLA. We suggest legislators should require that agencies should first determine by written finding that participation in a mandatory PLA advances the public’s interests, based on objective criteria such as cost, efficiency, quality, safety, timeliness, maintenance of a skilled labor force, labor stability, or advancing small, women-owned, and minority-owned business participation in the project, before state funds are used for any transportation project governed by a public agency.

With the additional transportation funding from state and federal support, the group also discussed the desire to attract more young workers into the industry. The host groups have secured a $400,000 grant to pilot a Construction Infrastructure Academy at two Virginia community colleges with the intent to grow the program into all community colleges. This will not be a two-year long degree, but a shorter “basic training” initiative to get folks interesting on transportation construction a quick starter before learning on the job. Legislators were pleased to hear of the initiative.

Other topics discussed:

  • Consider increasing by the maximum weight for trucks to address the truck driving shortages by 10%.
  • Legislators discussed an effort to clean up the code around term contracts for engineering firms.
  • The value of Smart Scale as a prioritization tool for limited transportation construction dollars. The majority appeared to still favor Smart Scale.
  • Wage theft and “unscrupulous” contractors was brought up. Most of transportation construction requires certified payrolls and thus alleged “wage theft” does not appear to be an issue.

If you have additional thoughts or concerns on upcoming legislative issues, please contact Gordon Dixon at gordon@vtca.org.

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