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Highway Construction Rises

mcgraw_hill_logoJanuary 31, 2011 – There's some good economic news for the month of December, traditionally a slow construction period. New construction starts in December climbed 19 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $450.2 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. The public works categories in December were mixed. Gains were registered by highway construction, up 7 percent; and water supply systems, up 26 percent. Decreased activity was reported for river/harbor development, down 2 percent; bridge construction, down 11 percent; miscellaneous public works (site work, mass transit, pipelines), down 25 percent; and sewer construction, down 34 percent. Despite its December decline, the miscellaneous public works category did include $431 million for subway line-related work in New York. And all that despite unseasonably horrible weather.

Live from Condex: It's the Economy, Stupid

alan.beaulieu_236January 28, 2011 – Blogging live again today from Condex, and the AED Convention  in sunny Orlando. Watched an extraordinary presentation by economist Alan Beaulieu, a principal of the Institute for Trend Research where he serves as president. Beaulieu charted the recession and pinpointed specific data indicated a solid recovery is afoot. He is calling for modest growth in 2011, a great 2012 and and expanding economy through 2014, so much-improved conditions await us up the road. He did make it clear that if you need to invest in capital equipment, now is the time to buy, when interest rates are low and the economy hasn't taken off yet. He predicts interest rates will definitely go up with the expanding economy. Interestingly enough, much of what he sees in the general economy, and applies to construction markets, mirrors what PCA Economist Edward Sullivan spoke about at World of Concrete. Speaking with manufacturers, distributors and service providers here at the show has provided keen insight into market conditions at ground zero. There is cautious optimism, and that is a far cry from the bleak conditions lamented by so many over the past two years.

Live from Condex in Orlando

aedJanuary 26, 2011 – Blogging live this morning from the Condex show, and Associated Equipment Distributors convention in Orlando, where I hope to see 75 degrees and sunny today. With a brutal Ohio winter still going full force, this a pleasant respite for the Rock Products staff. Today at the show there is much discussion about the State of the Union address, and the references to infrastructure investment, with some healthy skepticism being reserved for any plan to bundle high-speed rail and wireless internet with road and bridge construction. The Condex trade show opened its doors this morning, and as is AED tradition, manufacturer hospitality suites will be open all day long. It's a great day to be in Florida!

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