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Highways on the Hot Seat

RR080119 workerAugust 1, 2019 – According to the latest construction spending report from the U.S. Census Bureau, highway construction in June was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $101.9 billion, 6.4% (±5.4%) below the revised May estimate of $108.9 billion. But spending in the first half of 2019 was up sharply for most public infrastructure, with year-to-date increases of 14.5% for highway and street construction spending, 7.1% for transportation (airports, transit, rail and port) spending, 16.2% for sewage and waste disposal, 15.1% for water supply and 12.2% for conservation and development. Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu cautioned, "The U.S. construction industry’s most significant source of uncertainty may be the pending insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund. That insolvency is now a mere two years away, and if policymakers fail to act expeditiously, state and local policymakers may choose to postpone certain projects given the rising uncertainty of federal funding. The highway/street and transportation categories are especially vulnerable to such dynamics.”