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Highway Trust Fund in Trouble

nssgaFebruary 3, 2011 – Folks, the Highway Trust Fund is running dry. And something has to be done about it soon. According to NSSGA, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its annual Budget and Economic Outlook report for the next 10 fiscal years, which includes an updated assessment of the Highway Trust Fund. In its previous report last summer, CBO projected the Highway Trust Fund’s Highway account to be solvent through the end of fiscal year 2013. But the revised estimate now suggests the account may be unable to meet obligations in a timely manner sometime during fiscal year 2012. Congress authorized General Fund transfers of $8 billion in fiscal year 2008, $7 billion in fiscal year 2009 and $19.5 billion in fiscal year 2010 to ensure Highway Trust Fund solvency until the hoped-for-passage of a surface transportation reauthorization bill.

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Manufacturers Call for Immediate Action on Infrastructure

aem2February 2, 2011 – America's construction equipment manufacturers have a message for Washington: Get with it!  Association of Equipment Manufacturers President Dennis Slater, whom I spoke with at the recent AED Convention in Orlando, issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address:

“The State of the Union address was the first in more than a decade to address America’s broken transportation system," he said. "To compete globally, America’s farmers and manufacturers need the White House and Congress to cooperate on new policies that repair and modernize transportation infrastructure – an issue American voters agree is an essential investment in our country and an immediate means to job creation.

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Highway Construction Rises

mcgraw_hill_logoJanuary 31, 2011 – There's some good economic news for the month of December, traditionally a slow construction period. New construction starts in December climbed 19 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $450.2 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. The public works categories in December were mixed. Gains were registered by highway construction, up 7 percent; and water supply systems, up 26 percent. Decreased activity was reported for river/harbor development, down 2 percent; bridge construction, down 11 percent; miscellaneous public works (site work, mass transit, pipelines), down 25 percent; and sewer construction, down 34 percent. Despite its December decline, the miscellaneous public works category did include $431 million for subway line-related work in New York. And all that despite unseasonably horrible weather.

Live from Condex: It's the Economy, Stupid

alan.beaulieu_236January 28, 2011 – Blogging live again today from Condex, and the AED Convention  in sunny Orlando. Watched an extraordinary presentation by economist Alan Beaulieu, a principal of the Institute for Trend Research where he serves as president. Beaulieu charted the recession and pinpointed specific data indicated a solid recovery is afoot. He is calling for modest growth in 2011, a great 2012 and and expanding economy through 2014, so much-improved conditions await us up the road. He did make it clear that if you need to invest in capital equipment, now is the time to buy, when interest rates are low and the economy hasn't taken off yet. He predicts interest rates will definitely go up with the expanding economy. Interestingly enough, much of what he sees in the general economy, and applies to construction markets, mirrors what PCA Economist Edward Sullivan spoke about at World of Concrete. Speaking with manufacturers, distributors and service providers here at the show has provided keen insight into market conditions at ground zero. There is cautious optimism, and that is a far cry from the bleak conditions lamented by so many over the past two years.

Live from Condex in Orlando

aedJanuary 26, 2011 – Blogging live this morning from the Condex show, and Associated Equipment Distributors convention in Orlando, where I hope to see 75 degrees and sunny today. With a brutal Ohio winter still going full force, this a pleasant respite for the Rock Products staff. Today at the show there is much discussion about the State of the Union address, and the references to infrastructure investment, with some healthy skepticism being reserved for any plan to bundle high-speed rail and wireless internet with road and bridge construction. The Condex trade show opened its doors this morning, and as is AED tradition, manufacturer hospitality suites will be open all day long. It's a great day to be in Florida!