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Obama Calls for Infrastructure Investment

barack_obama1-222x300January 26, 2011 – Well, the words were short on specifics, but the message was clear to the newly minted Congress in President Obama's State of the Union Address: We must invest in America's infrastructure.

Obama's exact words were thus: "The third step in winning the future is rebuilding America. To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information – from high-speed rail to high-speed internet.

"Our infrastructure used to be the best – but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation's infrastructure, they gave us a "D."

Read more: Obama Calls for Infrastructure Investment

Congestion Question

congestionJanuary 25, 2011 – Would you like some good news and bad news? The good news is, the economy is improving. The bad news is, as the economy improves, so does congestion. The Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University, just released its latest Urban Mobility Report, which concludes that after two years of slight declines in overall traffic congestion – attributable to the economic downturn and high fuel prices – leading indicators suggest that as the economy rebounds, traffic problems are doing the same.

Read more: Congestion Question

Mineral Commodity Survey: Crushed Stone

usgsJanuary 24, 2011 – According to Jason Willett, crushed stone commodity specialist for USGS, in 2010, crushed stone valued at $11 billion was produced by 1,600 companies operating 4,000 quarries, 91 underground mines, and 195 sales/distribution yards in 50 States. Estimated production for 2010 was 1.150 billion metric tons, down slightly from 2009. The information was just released as part of the agency’s 2011 Mineral Commodity Surveys. Leading states, in descending order of production, were Texas, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Virginia, together accounting for 50 percent of the total crushed stone output.

Read more: Mineral Commodity Survey: Crushed Stone

Chinese Highways

china_flagJanuary 21, 2011 -  While the do-nothings in Congress sit on their hands and let our national infrastructure fall apart, China is spending a small fortune on its highways and bridges. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, over the past five years, China’s Transport Ministry spent 4.7 trillion yuan ($713 billion) on road and water transportation – more than double the sum of the annual expenditures listed in U.S. Department of Transportation’s budget reports for the same time period. Expressways in China now total 46,000 miles, the ministry says – just a thousand miles short of the U.S. interstate system. It’s time for Congress to put their petty ideological differences aside and get to work on the critical issue of stabilizing our national infrastructure. Read the entire sobering article here.

Ed Sullivan, live from World of Concrete

pcaJanuary 19, 2011 – Edward Sullivan, chief economist with the Portland Cement Association is no longer bullish on a fast rebound for the cement market. Speaking at the World of Concrete in Las Vegas, he said that he believes the gains originally forecast for 2011 will not transpire until 2012, or beyond. He noted that mortgage foreclosures continue to be a detriment to residential construction, and the commercial market is overbuilt with high vacancy rates, so there is no great opportunity for expansion there. He is also not as positive as others in the industry that the current Congress will act on an adequately funded  federal infrastructure bill.