The U.S. Department of Transportation Releases National Freight Strategic Plan

 

The U.S. Department of Transportation Releases National Freight Strategic PlanUSDOT lays out a vision on how to improve the safety, security, and resilience of the national freight system.

Every day, America’s transportation network moves over 51 million tons of freight and energy products valued at nearly $52 billion via highways, railways, ports and inland waterways, pipelines, and airports. The demand that has resulted from the increased use of e-commerce and global supply chains is presenting a series of challenges to our already taxed transportation system. 

Challenges affecting our freight system include increased safety risks, increased congestion, and declining infrastructure conditions. According to the USDOT, these challenges could have a negative impact on America’s ability to stay competitive across major industries like agriculture, manufacturing, energy production and E-commerce along with a lack of preparation for incorporating innovative technologies.   

Earlier in the month, the United States Department of Transportation addressed these problems when it released its National Freight Strategic Plan (NFSP). The plan lays out the USDOT’s vision for long-term investments in infrastructure, the workforce, and other essential parts of the freight system. “The safe and efficient movement of goods through our freight system is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT),” it states in the NFSP Executive Summary. “This National Freight Strategic Plan defines the U.S. DOT’s vision and goals for the national multimodal freight system, assesses the conditions and performance of the freight system and barriers to freight system performance, and defines strategies to achieve its vision and goals.”

The strategic goals stated in the plan are to:  

*Improve the safety, security, and resilience of the national freight system.

*Modernize freight infrastructure and operations to grow the economy, increase competitiveness, and improve quality of life.

*Prepare for the future by supporting the development of data, technologies, and workforce capabilities that improve freight system performance.

The USDOT says that the plan details how we can modernize freight infrastructure and operations, however, critics of the plan say that it’s lacking details on how these initiatives will be funded and the data necessary to do so. “Economists recognize that all plans need to be re-evaluated because of changed circumstances,” says Railroad economist and planner and Railway Age Contributing Editor Jim Blaze. “That is not evident in this 2020 document.” Click here to read more of Jim’s NFSP analysis.  

Read the USDOT National Freight Strategic Plan (Full Report) and let us know your thoughts on the plan and the challenges ahead. To learn more about the NFSP, visit transportation.gov/freight/NFS. USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao’s remarks about the plan can be viewed HERE.

Sources: 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Makes Historic Announcement on America’s Freight System (Press Release)

USDOT Releases National Freight Strategic Plan

USDOT National Freight Strategic Plan (Executive Summary)

 

WVCO looks back on 2019 – the year of innovation.

WVCO Railroad Products

2019 was a year of innovation. The wood products industry thrived as game-changing technology was introduced into the marketplace while cross-laminated timber, known for its economic advantages, construction quality, durability, sustainability, and aesthetics, was embraced by more architects and construction companies around the world.

There were great advances made in automation that will make manufacturing jobs safer and more efficient. WVCO’s Idaho Milling and Grain division kept their eyes on exciting new research that may help farmers adapt to climate pressures as researchers developed technology to create 3D-printed concrete that could revolutionize the construction industry and decrease its carbon footprint.

WVCO continued to develop robotic solutions for automated engineering, finishing, material handling, welding and more. Our team of engineers also developed unique and customized solutions that will enable companies to overcome challenges in the transportation industry and infrastructure.

Here’s a look back at some of our highlights from 2019.

In May, our WVCO Wood Products team traveled to Hannover, Germany to showcase WVCO’s wood product solutions and equipment at LIGNA 2019, the world’s leading trade show for tools and machinery for the wood processing industry. It was an exciting opportunity for us to meet with key wood and forestry industry leaders from around the globe. LIGNA 2019 had three focus themes: “Integrated Woodworking – Customized Solutions”, “Smart Surface Technology” and “Access to Resources and Technology”.

Over the summer, the WVCO team introduced the FastPatch HPRE, High-Performance Rail Encapsulator to address some of the challenges embedded rail systems on city streets present such as excessive vibration, noise, rail deflection, and maintenance difficulties. This new system is designed from WVCO’s innovative polymer and dispensing equipment and offers fast installation and a long-lasting solution for embedded rail systems with key performance properties.

We also had the pleasure of opening our newly remodeled R & D Center for our Research & Development team in Eugene. The beautiful new facility is equipped with the latest and most sophisticated analytical technologies on the market and designed with our entire R & D team in mind.

In August, Cleco presented Willamette Valley Company (WVCO) with a $34,182.40 check at our Pineville, Louisana facility for upgrading its interior and exterior lights to LED lighting through Cleco’s Power Wise™ energy efficiency program. With the new LED lighting, WVCO is projected to save 341,824 kWh annually, which is estimated to be enough electricity to power 28 homes for one year!

Also in August, our Pre-Tec division was prominently featured in this piece published in Eugene’s Register Guard.

The WVCO Railroad Division exhibited products like SpikeFast®, the industry’s most reliable product for plugging spike holes, and other custom solutions related to rail and highway safety at the 2019 National Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Conference. The conference brought leaders in the rail and highway industries together to present contemporary topics and new technology to an international audience.

In September,the WVCO team traveled to Tampa, Florida to meet with professionals in the marine industry and present how our innovative FastPatch technology can cut time and expenses at IBEX 2019, North America’s leading technical boat-building showcase.

Our team also exhibited our railroad products and FastPatch products at Railway Interchange 2019, the largest U.S.-based technical conference and trade show for the railroad industry! took place in September in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was a great success. An estimated 7,000+ attendees and hundreds of exhibitors from all over the world gathered at this combined railway industry event, sponsored by AREMA (American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association) and CMA (Coordinated Mechanical Associations) and the exhibits of RSI (Railway Supply Institute), REMSA (Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association) and RSSI (Railway Systems Suppliers, Inc.)

In November, WVCO was named “APA Supplier of the Year” at the APA Annual Meeting held in conjunction with the EWTA Info Fair in Tucson, Arizona. This marks the fifth year in a row we have received this esteemed award, and the tenth out of the last 14 years! EWTA’s Supplier of the Year Awards are based on the quality and delivery of EWTA member products, equipment and/or services supplied to APA members, as determined by a vote of APA mill managers.

2019 also brought major changes to the world of robotics. WVCO’s PRE-TEC division enhanced robotic weld cell automation by introducing a unique line-up of FASWeld Standard Robotic Weld Cells, built for companies using automation for the first time, as well as customers looking to expand their robotic automation capabilities. Each system is developed using the highest quality industrial components.

What new developments do you predict 2020 will bring? Stay tuned and find out! WVCO wishes all of our employees, customers, partners and friends a very happy new year!

FastPatch HPRE® System Case Study – Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART)

A Disruption in DART’s Downtown Business District

FastPatch HPRE® Downtown Dallas Business District, May 2019.

FastPatch HPRE® Downtown Dallas Business District, May 2019.

Willamette Valley Company, LLC specializes in collaborative approaches to solving tough industry problems.  Earlier this year, Willamette Valley Company had the opportunity to work with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) which serves the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex of Texas.

Story Source: wvcorailroad.com

Embedding rail in rail grout had traditionally been a messy, labor-intensive, wasteful and time-consuming process. When Mike Holbrook, VP of Rail Operations for DART, found out about a new mechanically delivered and fast curing Polyurethane system, he started working with Willamette Valley Company’s Bret Andreasen to create a system that would bring rail grout into the modern Transit and Light Rail World. (To read Mike Holbrook’s full article on the Dallas DART project see Passenger Transport June 24th 2019 edition, page 10 )

DART provided multiple test locations before committing to this new disruptive technology to bring rail grout into the 21st Century. “We chose HPRE®-MD from the Willamette Valley Company for Environmental, Labor Reduction, Speed of Cure and Noise & Vibration reduction reasons AND it’s made in America” cites Holbrook.

HPRE®-MD allows trains to be put back into service within 1 hour of placing the rail grout due to the quick cure of the 2 liquid components which are mixed at the nozzle. The high output of a minimum 30 cubic feet per hour allowed DELTA RR and GW Peoples to finish early with just a 3 man crew. DELTA & GWP were instrumental in creating innovative methods for preparing the rail replacement and for installing the rail grout.

For example, Larry Lorella of DELTA RR pushed for larger containers for the chemicals asking the manufacturer to design day tanks to avoid time-consuming change-outs of the chemical totes. Willamette Valley’s Bret Andreasen went to work and the result was further collaboration and success for the Design, Manufacturing and Contracting teams. The disruption to service in Dallas was minimized, the disruption to traditional technology by using HPRE®-MD is a big impact.

So what makes this technology work so well in the Light Rail/Transit World? Nathan Werst, the formulating chemist for HPRE®-MD explains: “Although fast curing Polyurethanes are nothing new in the Construction World, what is new is the level of performance that HPRE® provides. My team designed a system that meets the highest performance possible to support current and future ridership forecasts and environments.”

“For example, The HPRE®-MD system is VOC free and 100 times more electrically isolating than previous/existing generation materials on offer. HPRE®-MD was formulated to maximize the expectations of the specifiers and owners expectations as to how a rail grout should perform and not how it could perform based upon technology available at that time.”

Mr. Werst added: “We do not worry about comparing Shore hardness to outdated technology or our compressive strength to harder (brittle) materials, what really counts is toughness and resilience to stand the test of time and increased load.”

Agencies that have and are using the polymer system include: DART, Baltimore MTA, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Chicago RTD, SFMTA, RTD (Denver), VTA, BART as well as many DOTs and Airport facilities in the USA, Canada, Latin America and around the Globe. If you would like more information about this topic, please contact us at Sales@WVCORailroad.com or 800-333-9826. 

Where Can I Find Technical Data on WVCO Products & Solutions?

wil-spray-500

For almost seven decades, innovators at Willamette Valley Company have introduced hundreds of custom solutions to companies multiple industries and specialties ranging from wood products to railroad, manufacturing, robotics, concrete and more.

Our elite chemists and engineers are working together to devise better products like coatings, fillers, adhesives, robotics, parts and more to improve the functionality and efficiency of your company’s operations. The list products and services produced by the following divisions is much too long to mention in a single post:

Wood Products
WVCO Railroad
PRE-TEC
FastPatch 
POLYQuik
Eclectic Products Incorporated
Idaho Milling and Grain
Tapel Willamette

We invite you to look through WVCO’s list of Technical Data Sheets to learn the specifics of our products and services like Paints & Primers, Inks, Synthetic Patch, Railroad Products, Extenders & Fillers, Epoxies, Putties and more so your company many benefit from them as well. Each sheet details the product’s features, benefits, where to use, typical properties, application details and contact information.

We stand by the quality of all of our wood products solutions, equipment, parts, railroad maintenance products, concrete repair solutions, wood molding products, flooring products, automated systems and agriculture solutions. Please let us know what WVCO can do for your company?

Industry News: U.S. Government Announces $900 Million in Infrastructure Grant Funds

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces Availability of $900 Million in Infrastructure Grant Funds

Highways and Bridges

Rail

Photo Source: American-Rails

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has formally announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to apply for $900 million in discretionary grant funding through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program.

“These BUILD Transportation grants will provide needed infrastructure investment to better connect rural and urban communities around our nation,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

Fiscal Year 2019 BUILD Transportation grants are for investments in surface transportation infrastructure and will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects that will have a significant local or regional impact. BUILD funding can support roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation.

To reflect the Administration’s ongoing effort to rebalance past under-investment in rural America, DOT intends to award up to 50% of BUILD Transportation grant funding to projects located in rural areas that align well with the selection criteria. The FY 2019 BUILD program’s selection criteria gives special consideration to projects that emphasize improved access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation for communities in rural areas. This includes projects that improve infrastructure condition, address public health and safety, promote regional connectivity, facilitate economic growth or competitiveness, deploy broadband as part of an eligible transportation project, or promote energy independence.

Selection criteria encompass safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, state of good repair, innovation and partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 made available $900 million for National Infrastructure Investments, otherwise known as BUILD grants. For this round of BUILD grants, the maximum grant award is $25 million, and no more than $90 million can be awarded to a single State.

To provide technical assistance to a broad array of stakeholders, DOT is hosting a series of webinars during the FY 2019 BUILD grant application process. Details and registration information regarding these webinars will be made available at https://www.transportation.gov/BUILDgrants/outreach.

The deadline to submit an application for the FY 2019 BUILD Transportation Discretionary Grants program is July 15, 2019.

What WVCO is Giving Thanks for This Season

Happy Thanksgiving from WVCO

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and appreciate what we’re grateful for in our lives. As this cherished holiday approaches, we got to thinking about what WVCO is most grateful for.

As a family-owned company, we are grateful for the many relationships our company has enjoyed through the years with our employees, distributors, customers and partner organizations. We recently asked them to share what they appreciate about Willamette Valley Company and the responses were overwhelming. Here are just a few below.

From all of us at Willamette Valley Company, we wish you all a very happy and joyous Thanksgiving and holiday season!

What is in store for Rail in 2018?

Rail

Photo Source: American-Rails

“We feel very good about the future and look forward to next year. We are committed to provide superior service to our customers, and with the volume growth momentum still ahead of us, we see good growth opportunity. A major focus as we move into 2018 is putting more of our resources in place: the people, the equipment and the capital investments.” — Canadian National President and CEO Luc Jobin

What’s the state of the rail industry in 2018? Today’s modern railroads face diverse and unique challenges in daily maintenance projects. There is a lot to be optimistic about in the coming year for rail, though at the moment it is a cautious optimism. A strong U.S. economy and increased consumer confidence could potentially bring new investments and policies that would positively affect all levels of infrastructure throughout the country.

Overall, 2017 was a good year for the rail industry, with the ASCE’s report card giving it the only strong grade of its infrastructure report card. NASDAQ also reported strong growth for railroads in the third quarter due in part to improved focus on deliverables like coal.

Of course, there are challenges to overcome that could impact the industry. Some lawmakers have called for budget cuts, stating that trains are not profitable. National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) President and CEO Jim Mathews responded by saying “those in Congress who believe that passenger rail is not profitable are mistaken. What they don’t see is the big picture. A robust national–and international–intermodal transportation system is crucial to economic growth, especially in those rural and less wealthy areas where travel options are already limited.”

Uncertainty with the North American Free Trade Agreement could also be a factor that greatly impacts the rail industry. Railroads such as the Kansas City Southern that deal heavily with Mexico could potentially feel the repercussions of the deal falling through.

Union Pacific’s Lance Fritz highlights Mexico is a strong business opportunity. “Despite uncertainty around NAFTA, we consider our Mexico business an opportunity that could benefit some of our submarkets. Union Pacific moves 70 percent of U.S. freight-rail shipments to and from Mexico through gateways at Brownsville, Laredo, Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas; Nogales, Arizona; and Calexico, California. We support trade that helps the U.S. and Mexico economies grow.”

As new infrastructure plans and investments are revealed, the railroad industry’s future will become clearer. We hope it’s a bright one.

About WVCO’s Railroad Division
The Willamette Valley Company’s Railroad Division is the industry leader in providing innovative new products and application systems for today’s railroads. The Railroad Division’s proprietary product, SpikeFast®, has quickly become the most sought-after and reliable product for plugging spike holes.The Railroad Division also offers other railroad tie products for wood and concrete ties, and unique application systems to accurately and consistently apply proven products.

Sources:

https://www.globalrailwayreview.com/article/63203/expanding-passenger-rail-u-s-economy/

https://www.globalrailwayreview.com/news/62949/report-amtrak-cuts-cost-billions/

http://www.nasdaq.com/article/railroad-industry-outlook-december-2018-cm886615

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/rail_industry_trends/article/Outlook-2018-For-Class-I-railroads-moderate-growth-is-the-best-guess–53413

A Look at Infrastructure’s 2017 and 2018

US Infrastructure

Photo Source: Inhabitat.com

As 2017 comes to a close it’s the ideal time to reflect on the year and look towards the future. Specifically, the present and future of the United States’ infrastructure.

In the views of many, 2017 could have been a better year for infrastructure.The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)’s 2017 report card gave infrastructure a national grade of D+.This grade is based on a total average of individually graded categories, such as aviation, schools, drinking water, and energy to name a few. The one category where infrastructure is succeeding is Rail, the highest rated category at a B rating. Find the grading breakdown of the report card here.

ReportCard

Image Source: ASCE

So how can infrastructure improve in 2018? The ASCE offers several solutions to raise the grade. One such improvement is for leadership to be emboldened. As ASCE President Dr. Norma Jean Mattei puts it “we need our elected leaders – those who pledged to rebuild our infrastructure while on the campaign trail – to follow through on those promises with investment and innovative solutions that will ensure our infrastructure is built for the future.”

Another such solution offered would be to increase sustained infrastructure investment, specifically from 2.5% to 3.5% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025. Their third recommendation would be to ensure that infrastructure is more resilient and sustainable in order to prepare it for the future.

Will these solutions be implemented? It may be too early to say. The current administration has promised to announce their infrastructure plan and will reveal spending for the next few years. If the promise of $1 trillion worth of infrastructure investment is true, then it is very possible we may see the report card grade improve drastically in the coming years. One thing is certain: 2018 and the new infrastructure plan will bring drastic policy changes that will be felt throughout all facets of infrastructure.

Sources:

https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/

https://www.asce.org/templates/press-release-detail.aspx?id=24013

http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/363813-trump-to-release-infrastructure-plan-next-month-report

 

Positive Train Control Means Increased Rail Safety Measures

Rail systems get millions to improve safety

Rail systems get millions to improve safety

Last spring, the  U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would grant $197 million in funding for rail systems to implement the new rail safety measures called Positive Train Control.

Positive Train Control, or PTC, has been described as something of an “air traffic control” center for trains. PTC makes use of GPS satellites, radio towers, and ground sensors in order to better read a train’s speed and location. One such added benefit of this technology is that it can detect if a train is going too fast and allow on board computers to slow it down or stop it all together.

PTC

Photo Source – The Press Enterprise

“The number of passengers depending on rail has increased dramatically, which means PTC is needed now more than ever,” said Patrick Warren, FRA Executive Director. “This funding will get us closer to PTC implementation on some of the most significant railroads in the country that transport several million passengers to and from work every day.”

PTC systems are designed to prevent certain train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zones, and trains routed to the wrong tracks because a switch was left in the wrong position. The grants under this program will be used to install PTC technology, including back office systems and wayside, communications, and onboard hardware equipment associated with railroads’ PTC systems.

“Millions of people rely on our nation’s commuter railroads and Positive Train Control will help ensure safe and reliable service,” said FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes. “Today’s announcement means that commuter railroads can move forward with the implementation of an important rail safety feature.”

Of course, a project of this scale and scope has been met with some hesitation. Some fear such a system could higher transportation costs in addition to redundancies that could potentially result in layoffs. Though the debate continues whether implementation is fiscally wise or will managed, few can deny that such a tech will not be a strong tool in helping prevent accidents caused due to human error.

To view a list of when railroads predict that they will achieve full PTC system implementation, visit Railroads’ Planned Timelines for Full Implementation of PTC TechnologyExternal Link.

Sources:

New Technology Coming To Help Make MARC Trains Safer

Rail systems get millions to improve safety

Regulators and railways spar over Positive Train Control, a controversial safety system that won’t arrive in time

Meet John Zuspan, “the Track Guy”

 

Photo Source University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Photo Source University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“We must build and maintain the track structure the right way or Railroad Safety, Quality, and Integrity will be compromised and this great industry will (literally and figuratively) derail.” – Excerpt from Track Guy Consultant’s Mission Statement.

Event-goers of NRC-REMSA 2017 Conference earlier this year are no doubt familiar with John Zuspan; not only did he present a seminar on “Means and Methods for Direct Fixation, Low Vibration Track & Embedded Track” (a talk on the means and methods for DF, LVT, and embedded track construction), he was honored and inducted into the NRC Hall of Fame.

Throughout his 40+ year career, John Zuspan has worked in the various complex roles that make up our railroad industry. This journey first began with a job as a track laborer for Atlas Railroad Construction, where Zuspan learned first hand the tangible, physical requirements of railway assembly.  This knowledge would serve him well in his next role, Superintendent for Slattery/Skanska. Zuspan’s work ethic and drive resulted in his elevation to Director of the Track Division. Vice President for Balfour Beatty Rail was the next post Zuspan assumed, estimating and managing budgets for several large scale railway projects and being responsible for hundreds of track workers across three boroughs.

It’s no exaggeration to say that John Zuspan has an inside knowledge of all complex facets that make the railway industry run. This passion and perspective, gleamed through a decades of work, would lead to his next endeavor: Track Guy Consultants.

Track Guy Consultants granted John Zuspan the opportunity to give back to the railway industry through workshops, seminars, track inspections, safety training, and other services for railroad firms and employees. Stanley Beaver, Safety and Environment Director at Balfour Beatty Rail, sums up the impact of Zuspan’s work:

“Without John’s help, many individuals and small businesses may not have succeeded. Very often his help comes without charge in the form of advice and encouragement. John is never too busy to take time to help individuals working through complex issues.”

For his decades of service towards improving the quality of railways and railway employees, as well as his on-going passion to offer the tools and information new generations of railway workers can use, we name John Zuspan our Featured Innovator of the Month. We look forward to hearing more from him in the future!

Note: John Zuspan does not work for nor is he affiliated with  Willamette Valley Company. 

Sources:

Track Guy Consultants

RT&S