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New Roads in Illinois

illinois-road-mapAugust 29, 2011 – I am blogging live from Illinois this week. One of the big news stories here is the decision by the Illinois Toll Highway Authority to raise its prices. Tolls will shoot up an average of 88 percent next year to finance a $12 billion toll-road expansion and renovation plan. Illinois State Toll Highway Authority leaders said the move is crucial to repair existing roads and build some new ambitious projects such as the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway extension to O’Hare International Airport and a western bypass road around the airport. The plan is predicted to create about 120,000 permanent jobs and 13,000 construction jobs. It has received strong support from labor unions and the construction industry. Motorists are not pleased with the hit to their wallets. But I predict they will like the congestion the new roads will alleviate.

Cat is Where it's at

Cat8-25August 24, 2011 – I am blogging live this week from Milwaukee, where Caterpillar is hosting a media event for the mining industry trade press to formally celebrate the approval of its acquisition of Bucyrus earlier this year. Also with me at this event are Steve Fiscor, editor of Coal Age and Engineering and Mining Journal; and Oscar Martinez, editor of Equipo Minero, all sister publications of Rock Products underneath the Mining Media International umbrella.

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Highway Construction Jumps in July

highwayconst200x135August 22, 2011 – There was some good news for highway construction in July. According to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, the public works sector in July strengthened 20 percent, in a departure from what has been generally a downward trend during 2011. Highway construction in July jumped 27 percent, boosted by the start of the $575 million Capital Beltway project in northern Virginia.

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Mineral Information Institute Adds to Teaching Tools

LearningAugust 16, 2011 – You can never have enough sources for good educational programs. The Mineral Information Institute, an affiliate of the SME Foundation, now offers Mining 101. This dynamic program is now posted online and available for educators as a free download. The comprehensive PowerPoint slide show can be found at, along with the accompanying Teachers’ Guide. Designed for K-12 educators, the program addresses topics from exploration and mapping to EIS requirements, sustainability, metallurgy, careers and reclamation and includes products that come from mining.

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USGS Releases Second-Quarter Estimates

usgsAugust 8, 2011 – Jason Willett, crushed stone commodity specialist for USGS, tells Rock Products that preliminary second-quarter production numbers reveal a year-over-year decrease. Crushed stone production decreased 10 percent, while sand and gravel production was down 7 percent. For the first six months of the year, crushed stone production was down 6.1 percent, while sand and gravel production was down 6.8 percent, reflecting industry response to the failure of congress to pass an adequately funded transportation bill. Third-quarter numbers, which cover the critical summer construction months, will be released in the fall.