Hard Facts Podcast


Hard Facts is a podcast that examines the best way to pay for the nation’s transportation infrastructure. We explore money-saving tools available to planners and builders and the case for using them through interviews with members of Congress, the Administration, and industry.

Subscribe and listen to new episodes every Wednesday on Apple Podcasts.

Hard Facts Episode 20: Everyone agrees that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” But it took an Act of Congress last fall to encourage new thinking about spending on disaster mitigation.

Pamela Williams, Executive director of the Build Strong Coalition, first helped write the Disaster Recovery Reform Act from her perch as a key staffer on Capitol Hill. Today, away from Congress, she is working to implement the programs created in the legislation.

Williams visited the Hard Facts studio recently to discuss the law, the need for a new perspective on federal disaster assistance, and plans to help put key pieces of the Act into motion.

Hard Facts Episode 19: Transportation financing made a splash during the 2016 Presidential campaign thanks to candidates Trump and Clinton. Since then, the topic has gained more prominence. Even though a deal has not been reached, Dave Bauer, President and CEO of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, says progress has been made thanks to the debate that began on the campaign trail.

State Transportation Funding Boosts Can't Replace Federal Dollars, Road Builders Say.

Hard Facts Episode 18: With another presidential race gearing up, transportation reporters are now saying that a surface reauthorization extension is all one can hope for out of Congress next year. Frustration in Washington runs high as both sides have failed to find a pragmatic funding mechanism to fix America’s deteriorating roads and bridges.

Steve Sandherr, the CEO of Associated General Contractors of America, gives his thoughts on how partisanship is crushing the hope of improving American infrastructure.

Stephen Sandherr: Trump and Dems Should Fix Infrastructure and Stop Partisan Bickering

Hard Facts Episode 17: Think tanks, associations, and experts all have weighed in with their solutions for the nation’s transportation funding crisis, proposing funding mechanisms, policy solutions, and legislative language. Among them is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has offered a four point plan to address the challenge.

Ed Mortimer, the Chamber’s Vice President of Transportation and Infrastructure, appears this week to explain the plan and the need for Congressional action before the end of this year.

Hard Facts Episode 16: The national media’s view of the state of funding for transportation infrastructure is cynical and cautious, but the opportunity for more investment, despite their reports, is not completely lost. 

James O’Keefe has been on the inside, shaping federal policy, crunching budget numbers, and navigating Congressional politics for more than twenty years. He also consults the Portland Cement Association. 

Informed by his own contacts in Hill offices, O’Keefe tell us this week that work continues on a plan that includes discussion of ways to pump more money into the federal program.


Hard Facts Episode 15: For five months, we’ve been told to expect big bucks for transportation infrastructure. But with the abrupt end to the last White House meeting a few weeks ago, what is there to look forward to on the funding question?

Politico’s Sam Mintz writes for his newsroom’s Morning Transportation daily newsletter. He visits Hard Facts to discuss what happened at the White House, and where Congress may be headed even as the presidential election storm approaches.

Hard Facts Episode 14: We review the week’s infrastructure news in Washington, including the meltdown at the White House and the focus on climate change in Congress. Then, we get an overview of infrastructure policy and funding priorities from Rep. Rodney Davis, ranking Republican on the Highways and Transit Sub-Committee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Hard Facts Episode 13: Some concrete comes to the job ready for installation while some concrete needs to be pumped into the work site. Our guests have us covered this week, as we discuss precast, prestressed, and pumped concrete, all in one show!

This week we visit with Bob Risser and Christi Collins, both members of the North American Concrete Association (NACA).

Risser is President and CEO of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute. Collins is Executive Director of the American Concrete Pumping Association.

Hard Facts Episode 12: It’s Infrastructure Week in Washington D.C., the seventh such event intended to call attention to the importance of roads, bridges, runways, ports, transit systems, and rail lines in the United States.

website created for the week says more than 500 organizations, companies, and cities are hosting over 100 events nationwide. One of those events was a news conference with the U.S. Capitol in the background, held under cloudy skies on Tuesday.

Hard Facts covered the proceedings and reports on comments made in favor of a financing solution to benefit America’s transportation infrastructure. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) are featured along with several industry leaders.

Hard Facts Episode 11: Minnesota Congressman Pete Stauber discusses the White House meeting on transportation funding and his introduction of the PAID Act, to require a Life Cycle Cost Analysis on any transportation project with at least $30 million in federal funding support.

Hard Facts Episode 10: The debate over how to fund infrastructure took an interesting turn this week. Is there a chance Washington can agree on a way to pay for projects? We briefly explore that idea, and then talk with Robert Thomas, president of the National Concrete Masonry Association, about his industry’s push for a commodity check-off program.

Hard Facts Episode 9: Reinforcing steel is a critical component of most concrete infrastructure projects. That’s why members of the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute are monitoring Congress as it debates the transportation funding question.
Danielle Kleinhans, the organization’s President and CEO, gives us a history lesson and explains why she is cautiously optimistic that Capitol Hill will find a solution.

Hard Facts Episode 8: As the weather warms in Washington, so does the rhetoric over how best to fund transportation infrastructure. The only agreement seems to be there is no agreement on how to raise the money to fund the work.

Hard Facts went along as members of the Portland Cement Association and the North American Concrete Alliance visited House and Senate members, seeking their support for a solution.

Tom Beck, PCA Board of Directors Chairman; Ron Henley, PCA Board of Directors Vice Chairman; Lori Tiefenthaler, Senior Director of Marketing at Lehigh Hanson; and West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito are the guests this week.

Hard Facts Episode 7: Almost everyone with a vote in Congress agrees that funding transportation infrastructure is important. But the forecast for getting a funding package done this year depends on who answers the question.

Jerry Voigt is the President and CEO of the American Concrete Pavement Association. He tells us inaction, for him and his members, is not an option.

Hard Facts Episode 6: Every industry group impacted by the infrastructure debate is looking to have its voice heard on Capitol Hill. Dozens of associations, even those not working for transportation interests, are pushing Congress and the Administration for a solution to the funding crisis.
But will anything get done this year? Rachel Derby, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Portland Cement Association, discusses the legislative process and addresses the potential for action in the current Congress.

Hard Facts Episode 5: Delaware Senator Tom Carper explains the challenge Congress faces in finding an answer to the transportation infrastructure question, and tells us why states are often better at finding money for roads and bridges.

Hard Facts Episode 4: While Congress continues to debate the details of a transportation infrastructure bill, hardworking people in the concrete industry are keeping an eye on their deliberations and their progress. This week, Richard Mueller and Ty Gable take turns sharing their messages for Capitol Hill policymakers. 

Hard Facts Episode 3: MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub Executive Director Jeremy Gregory talks about the Life Cycle Cost Analysis approach to planning transportation projects, which he says can return money-saving benefits to every road and bridge project.

Hard Facts Episode 2: Wyoming Senator John Barrasso talks infrastructure and his family’s ties to the cement and concrete business

Hard Facts Episode 1: Saving Tax Dollars Begins with Life Cycle Cost Analysis featuring PCA President & CEO Michael Ireland