ATSSA reaches out to DOTs again as raw materials challenges increase

ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner sent a letter this afternoon to the directors of every state department of transportation (DOT) to update them on the ongoing challenges facing members of the roadway safety infrastructure industry due to a shortfall in material supplies.

The latest resource severely cut was oxygen, which is needed to make glass beads that are used in pavement marking applications.

“Our members’ supply of oxygen has been cut by 70% in some areas and 100% in others because of the significant escalation of hospitalizations due to the spread of COVID-19 variants and the national trend of oxygen producers realigning the supply of oxygen from industrial customers to critical medical needs to combat the national pandemic,” Tetschner said in today’s letter.

Tetschner contacted the DOT directors in April asking for their understanding as the industry addressed “substantial volatility in terms of price fluctuations, product availability and delivery times” for key raw materials. He noted that several factors played into the issue at that point including reduced production resulting from COVID-19 plant shutdowns and extreme weather events in the Midwest/Texas in February.

At that point, he noted the impact on petroleum-based products, which are used for plastic and pavement marking resins.

In March, he notified them of challenges obtaining base resin, which is used in High Friction Surface Treatment applications.

In June, he notified Cheryl Walker, associate administrator of the Office of Safety at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), of the problems and  asked her to share the information with FHWA Division Administrators in each state and encourage them to work with state DOT and industry partners.

In August, ATSSA members learned of the problems obtaining oxygen.

“Once again, I strongly urge you to provide flexibility on liquidated damages provisions within your contracts for all these products due to the lack of availability which resulted from the current unforeseeable, extreme circumstances,” Tetschner said in today’s letter. “In addition to flexibility on contract time, you may also consider price supports on selected projects that have been affected by dramatic volatility in raw materials pricing. This short-term radical increase was unexpected.”

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