A group of construction materials trade associations representing thousands of member companies is standing united in support of the president’s call for more infrastructure investment. Before a joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama called for a renewed commitment to job creation and economic growth, in part through increased infrastructure spending for road and bridge construction/reconstruction.
The speech to Congress follows his Labor Day remarks in Detroit, Mich., where the president said, “We’ve got more than one million unemployed construction workers ready to get dirty right now. There is work to be done and there are workers ready to do it.”
The president’s comments come after unanimous passage by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee of a four-month extension of SAFETEA-LU at level funding.
The construction materials group, comprised of members of the American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA), National Asphalt Pavement Association(NAPA), National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA), National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) and Portland Cement Association (PCA), support calls from Congress and political leaders of both parties to set aside politics that are costing jobs and continuing economic stagnation. The group urges Congress to take action immediately to invest in the long-term future of the nation’s surface transportation network.
Through this investment, a myriad of economic problems can be addressed, notably: lower materials production, which is down 70 percent in some areas of the country; high unemployment in the construction sector, which has reached as much as 20 percent; and, lack of funding certainty essential to state government planning and informed capital and human resource decisions by business.
Gerald F. Voigt, P.E., ACPA president and CEO, said, “Our nation is living on borrowed time as state highway agencies and the transportation-construction industries wait for Congressional action. The federal government, state agencies and road building community are all stakeholders in our nation’s highways, and we must work together to find solutions to this significant problem. As a starting point, we need Congress to lead the charge toward reinvesting in the nation’s surface transportation system, which is vital to the safety, security and economic vitality of our nation.”
According to NAPA Chairman Kim Snyder, president, Eastern Industries Inc., “Legislation to fund our nation’s Federal-aid highway program has always been a bipartisan effort in Congress. The construction industry has lost more than two million jobs since December 2007 and both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO have called on Congress to pass a surface transportation reauthorization bill to create infrastructure jobs. The National Asphalt Pavement Association calls on the president and the Congress to make passing a long-term reauthorization bill with full funding for highways its top legislative job creation priority.”
Karl Watson, Jr., chairman of NRMCA and president, Cemex USA, said, “It is time for the president and Congress to get serious about solving the problems of our crumbling infrastructure and lack-luster job growth. Fixing the two go hand-in-hand and will result in jump starting the economy more than any single piece of legislation coming out of Washington. We applaud our nation’s leaders’ efforts in forging a path forward to pass an extension of the current highway program while continuing to work on a new bipartisan, fully funded, multi-year transportation bill.”
Also commenting, NSSGA Chairman David Thomey, executive vice president, Maryland Materials Inc., said, “We applaud the president and members of Congress for recognizing the importance of infrastructure investment to our nation’s economic well being. While the amount of funding being discussed falls fall short of what is essential to meet the surface transportation needs of the nation, we call on Congress to pass the Senate extension of the highway bill and move immediately to crafting a multi-year reauthorization.”
Brian McCarthy, president and CEO of PCA, concurred. “To mend our nation's infrastructure, put the construction sector back to work, and launch America back onto solid international competitive footing, Congress needs to act quickly. Every day allowed to pass without continued investment in the resources and personnel to care for our transportation network risks further detriment to other sectors of our economy and to the way of life we enjoy.”
With the pending expiration of current extension on SAFETEA-LU on Sept. 30, Congress must pass another extension of the law and immediately begin work on a multi-year transportation authorization that at a minimum maintains level funding, the groups said.