The 2015 Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In was held April 14-15, in Washington, D.C. More than 500 people descended upon the Capitol to urge members of Congress to pass an adequately funded transportation bill. The current temporary extension runs out at the end of May.
It was the largest fly-in held to date. Many members of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) joined the effort.
“Bottom line: the fly-in was a huge success,” said Charlie Luck IV, NSSGA’s chairman and president and CEO of Luck Companies, Richmond, Va. “More than 500 attendees from across the construction and materials sector urged Congress to pass a fully-funded, long-term reauthorization bill before the existing patch expires at the end of May 2015. We stressed that the current system of repeated patches and extensions isn't working. Congress got the message that they must act soon and decisively to get this construction season back on track. America's future is at stake.”
According to Bailey Wood, NSSGA's vice president of communications, the fly-in is part of the association's grassroots lobbying efforts, which it plans to ramp up in the coming weeks.
NSSGA is part of the Highway Materials Group, which works to bring the voice of the construction materials sector to the surface transportation reauthorization debate, and is comprised of the American Concrete Pavement Association, Associated Equipment Distributors, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, National Asphalt Pavement Association, National Ready-Mixed Concrete Association, NSSGA and Portland Cement Association.
The Highway Materials Group held an educational session for attendees prior to fanning out to meet legislators on Capitol Hill. “We want to make sure people are well-educated on the issues, and know how to talk about hot-button issues when they are face-to-face with their legislators,” Wood said.
According to Wood, the meetings were very positive whether they were talking to liberal or conservative representatives, and association members were well received, however, "there does not seem to be enough of a sense of urgency on the part of our legislators," he said. "It seems to be politically expedient at this time to just kick the can down the road."
Members are being urged to spend additional time calling their representatives in the run-up to the expiration of the temporary extension. "It is time to ratchet up the pressure," Wood said. "Enough is enough."