Portman, Kelly Introduce the ROCKS Act to Make Transportation Projects More Efficient and Cost Effective

May 18, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) introduced the Rebuilding Our Communities by Keeping Aggregates Sustainable (ROCKS) Act, a bill that would make federal transportation projects more sustainable, efficient, and beneficial to local economies by advancing the use of locally-sourced aggregate resources, like sand, stone, and gravel. In the House, a companion bill has been introduced by Reps. Troy Balderson (R-OH) and Greg Stanton (D-AZ).

Aggregates are needed to build roads, bridges, homes, and commercial buildings. Yet, builders are often unable to access locally-sourced aggregates, causing an increase in both the cost of transportation and infrastructure projects. Currently, federal projects are not required to identify nearby sources of aggregates when beginning construction projects, despite significant evidence that demonstrates locally-sourced aggregates are both more cost effective and environmentally friendly. The ROCKS Act strives to change that by requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation to convene a working group to study the use of aggregate resources in federal transportation projects.

“Aggregates – stone, sand, gravel – are the building blocks of every new home, building, road, bridge, and other public works project. Over the past few decades, aggregates have increasingly gone from being locally-sourced to being hauled long distances, resulting in increased construction costs and inefficient project delivery,” said Senator Portman. “This bipartisan legislation would bring together federal, state, and local stakeholders to determine the best way to source aggregates around the country, in an effort to reduce costs and emissions, while improving project development and delivery. I encourage my Senate colleagues to support this bill as we look to address our nation’s infrastructure needs.”

“To support Arizona’s economy and continued growth, we have to keep making investments in modernizing our infrastructure. Arizona roads, bridges and transit projects should be built using sand, stone, and gravel from Arizona,” said Senator Kelly. “Advancing how we use locally-sourced materials will keep more infrastructure dollars in local economies, while also helping projects move more quickly. The ROCKS Act builds on a model created in Arizona, and is an important first step in shaping federal building practices to ensure that building materials are sourced in a cost-effective and sustainable way.”

“Developing a long-term sustainability plan for our future aggregate needs is vital to Ohio’s economy. In Ohio, it is estimated that each resident needs over 10 tons (20,000 pounds) of locally available, quality aggregate resources each year. Approximately 95% of our asphalt roads are aggregate while about 85% of concrete is aggregate. Therefore, a safe and efficient transportation system is dependent upon the commodities that our members produce. In addition to supporting Ohio’s infrastructure needs, homebuilding, commercial construction and water and sewer along with other utilities depend upon locally available, quality aggregate resources. The members of the Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association are especially grateful to Ohio Senator Rob Portman for bringing the ROCKS Act before the U.S. Senate. This forward-thinking recognizes the important role of aggregates in our daily lives and will help develop a long-term sustainable plan for future needs. We look forward to working Senator Portman and urge full support of the ROCKS Act in the U.S. Senate,” said Patrick A. Jacomet, Executive Director, Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association.

“The 400 members of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association applaud Sen. Mark Kelly (AZ) and Sen. Rob Portman (OH) for introducing the Rebuilding Our Communities by Keeping Aggregates Sustainable (ROCKS) Act. Their leadership to advance this bipartisan legislation, that promotes sustainable access to needed construction materials, will improve the lives of all Americans,” said Michele Stanley, NSSGA Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs. “Aggregates are the second most utilized product in the world and are the bedrock in the creation of buildings, roads, airports and bridges. They are indispensable in developing the infrastructure needed to access clean water, deliver reliable energy and advance environmental stewardship. It is imperative that all communities have access to these essential resources as we work together to improve our outdated infrastructure. Sustainable, local access to aggregate materials improves construction costs, extends taxpayer dollars, reduces congestion and leads to better environmental outcomes.”

The working group formed by the ROCKS Act will: 

  • Study the use of aggregates resources in federally funded transportation and construction projects and how the proximity of aggregates resources impacts cost and the environment;
  • Examine how state, tribal, and local transportation and planning agencies may consider aggregates resources when developing projects;
  • Identify measures the federal government, state, tribal, and local transportation and planning agencies may take to preserve currently identified aggregate resources for future development.

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