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A $336 Billion Question

obama1February 16, 2011 – President Obama's initial budget for transportation, on first glance, makes your eyes pop. According to an analysis by The National Stone Sand and Gravel Association, the president is requesting $70.5 billion for highways and bridges for FY ‘12, a $29 billion increase over the FY ‘10 enacted funding level. Also, $27.65 billion of that increase is in "Up-Front" funding, intended to jump-start job creation and progress on highway and bridge projects. This number represents the first year of a six-year $336 billion proposal to rebuild America’s infrastructure and comes with several sweeping changes in transportation policy. But once you get past the excitement of a $336 billion, six-year transportation reauthorization, that's where the questions start. How do we pay for it?

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Exclusive: 2010 Production to Be Higher Than First Estimated

usgsFebruary 14, 2011 – Final 2010 stone-production numbers will not officially be released until next month, but Jason Willett, crushed stone commodity specialist for USGS, estimates for Rock Products that in 2010, aggregates production (crushed stone plus sand and gravel) will total approximately 1.977 billion metric tons. That is higher than the previous 2010 estimate of 1.910 billion metric tons released last month as part of the 2011 USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries, but lower than the estimated 2.01 billion metric tons produced in 2009. Estimated crushed stone production for 2010 will come in at approximately 1.177 billion metric tons, higher than the 1.150 billion metric tons estimated for the 2011 USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries, and 0.56 percent higher than the estimated 1.170 billion metric tons reported for 2009. Estimated construction sand and gravel production for 2010 will come in at approximately 800 million metric tons, higher than the 760 million metric tons estimated for the 2011 USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries, but 4.77 percent lower than the estimated 840 million metric tons reported for 2009.

Martin Marietta’s Nye Looks at 2011

ward_nyeFebruary 11, 2011 – With its stellar quarterly report, and year-end 2010 results just released, Martin Marietta Materials’ President and CEO Ward Nye addressed business conditions going forward. He sounded a tone of cautious optimism, despite the potential logjam for infrastructure funding at the congressional level.

"While a variety of factors make it difficult to form a complete perspective for 2011, there are a range of considerations informing our thinking at this time,” Nye said. “ A noteworthy consideration will be the rate at which states spend available stimulus funds for infrastructure projects in our key markets. At present, we operate under a Congressional continuingresolution that extended the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) through March 4, 2011. While Congressional Democrats and Republicans broadly agree that investing in infrastructure is a key governmental priority, we believe another Congressional continuing resolution of SAFETEA-LU is likely for 2011. However, reauthorized infrastructure legislation at the federal and state levels could be accelerated as congress, the president and local authorities focus on infrastructure as an efficient means of jobs creation and investment in thefoundational backbone of America's economic growth.

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House May Cut Transportation Budget

aemlogoFebruary 8, 2011 – Just when you thought that predictions for what the new Congress might or might not do were over-stated, comes word that the House Appropriations Committee intends to cut the federal transportation budget by 17 percent,  because it amounts to "deficit spending." What????  The Highway Transportation Fund is not deficit spending, it’s the people’s money, according to Association of Equipment Manufacturers President Dennis Slater "America’s commuters have paid their fair share into the Highway Trust Fund for the 2010-11 fiscal year through a dedicated 18.4 cent federal fuel and 24.4 diesel tax, and they deserve to see a full return on their investment," Slater said. "The nation’s highways, roads and bridges do not require 17 percent less repair today than yesterday. The average commute time is not 17 percent shorter nor are America’s manufacturers and farmers able to transport goods 17 percent more efficiently. Americans were promised that their hard-earned contributions to the Highway Trust Fund would be dedicated to the maintenance and improvement of our nation’s transportation infrastructure, and not to deficit reduction or any other purpose, and they should not be short-changed." We must insist that this promise be kept.

Vulcan Takes a Dip

vulcan-materialsFebruary 7, 2011 – Vulcan Materials, based on it s latest financial report, is operating at half-capacity. Don James, chairman and chief executive officer, said, "The length and depth of the decline in construction activity and aggregates demand during this economic downturn have been unprecedented. For Vulcan, aggregates shipments in 2010 were one-half the level shipped in 2006 when demand peaked. That said, we start 2011 with optimism that the decline in demand for our products bottomed in 2010 and that growth in shipments is ahead of us."

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