Conducting a Legislative Bus Tour to Further Highway Reauthorization
Larry Major of Pike Industries, Inc. (an Oldcastle Company and an NSSGA member) alerted us to an event held in New Hampshire that members of the aggregates industry may want to replicate in their states to drive home to elected officials the importance of our nation’s highways. In wake of the enactment of the FAST Act, tours and visits such as these play a crucial role in educating elected officials.
Larry sits on the Board of Directors of New Hampshire Good Roads Association which has been advocating for well-constructed roads for over a century. In May 2015, NHGRA hosted a bus tour for legislators of NH’s largest active construction project, the Interstate 93 expansion.
Tour highlights included:
- Concord Coach sponsored the tour with a luxury bus and talked about the importance of smooth rides for their fleet and passengers;
- Owners of two of NH’s leading restaurant/hospitality facilities discussed the importance of good highways for their unique Private/Public partnership at the new Hooksett rest areas;
- DOT and contractors discussed numerous projects occurring along the bus route;
- NH Governor Hassan met the bus at a new business park and discussed the importance of good transportation in attracting new business; and
- Press attended/reported on a major section of construction where the bus was able to stop for a project briefing.
The tour was attended by members of NH House and Senate, staffers from U.S. Senator Shaheen and Congresswoman Kuster. Speakers on the tour included various departments from NHDOT and a variety of contractors and subcontractors who spoke to the importance of adequate and predictable funding.
The New Hampshire Good Roads Association has generously provided NSSGA with the following outline and attached documents that you can use to adapt and implement such a tour of your own:
Planning is done with the Board of NHGRA and input from NH DOT officials. Because of the make-up of our Legislature // (House – 400 members) we work with just the chairman of our Transportation committees to decide the best timing of the trip, who will be invited and the best way to reach them. We used a combination of mailed invites, emailed and personal delivery.
In addition, this year we invited our Executive Council (most states have a Lieutenant Governor), the Governor, all Congressional representation. Again, in large states this could be done regionally or as we discussed while they are in session and projects around the area of the State House location.
Attached please find:
- Bus Tour invite // The Board decided on the tour route. Some projects are completed such as the Airport Access Road but we wanted to focus on the importance of investing and the benefits to the economy so we took them to projects that visually showed that has happened. I think everyone knows there is a need, but in NH, like probably most states no one seems to have the answer for sustainable funds (or the votes!) We provide transportation from the State House (where they all have a parking place) and always lunch whether at a restaurant or box lunch on the bus. We opted for a box lunch this year. Other tours we have stopped for lunch and I would include a short speaker. Since we start at 9 AM, we provide coffee/refreshments, this year at the new Welcome Center, other years on the bus or even in the State House an hour prior. These are quick and easy gestures and most appreciated by attendees. We found sponsors for food and bus.
- Stop Schedule // This schedule is generated by the desired projects to see and stop at, driving the route for timing (5 to 6 hours max including lunch), reviewing “safe stops” for bus parking and the plugging in the speakers for each destination. We could not stop at all projects because there was not a place to park a bus safely. You will see this noted on the schedule as “viewing only.” It is also important to decide at a stop if participants will have the opportunity to get off the bus or stay on for the presentation. With a large group it can be difficult to get them back on the bus in a timely manner. We incorporate both project contractors and NH DOT officials in the speaking. Once the route is mapped and timed, I review with DOT officials and contractors involved.
- Schedule//Participants//Profiles – this is the packet provided the day of the tour to participants/media attending. We opened with a welcome from our president and introductions of everyone on the bus. We provided plenty of time for questions whether on the bus or at a stop, but it takes one person to make sure the tour stays on schedule. It is also important to have safety vests/hard hats donated for the day. Most companies in the safety equipment business will gladly provide them for the day or possibly the DOT. We always try to incorporate our members first.
In addition, we incorporated video presentations on the bus for any time there wasn’t a speaker or stop.(Pothole.com had some we used, but perhaps you have some your organization has generated) It’s also important to keep a cooler with water on the bus for participants and a first aid kit for any minor issues.
If you have any questions or need any assistance, please contact NSSGA’s Government Affairs Division at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 342-1415.