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Martin Marietta Materials Delivers Gains in Fourth Quarter

Martin Marietta Materials Inc. announced fourth-quarter earnings of $14.8 million compared to a loss of $3.2 million last year. Earnings from continuing operations amounted to $15.1 million compared to a loss of $2.7 million a year ago. Total revenues increased to $428 million from $374.7 million last year.

Ward Nye, president and CEO of Martin Marietta Materials, stated, "Our 2010 performance further distinguishes Martin Marietta as a premier performer among building-materials companies. Despite the difficult environment in which we were operating, the earnings power created from our steadfast focus on fundamentals, including stringent cost controls and prudent management of our assets, enabled us to deliver fourth-quarter earnings of $0.32 per diluted share and full-year earnings of $2.10 per diluted share.

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NSSGA Launches Initiative To Spur Action On Reauthorization

With the enthusiastic encouragement of National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) Chairman Bill Schneider, president and CEO, Knife River Corp.,  and NSSGA Government Affairs Division Chairman Charlie Luck, IV, president and CEO, Luck Stone Corp., NSSGA is kicking off its "One to Five" program, a new initiative to boost support from both the business sector and the general public at the local level for surface transportation reauthorization.  The recently announced House Transportation and  Infrastructure Committee field hearings offer an ideal opportunity to launch this program and get non-construction interests involved in reauthorization.

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MSHA Announces POV Proposed Rule

MSHA announces a proposed rule to revise its pattern of violations regulation in 30 Code of Federal Regulations Part 104.  In September 2010, MSHA announced new screening criteria for the POV program, giving the agency an additional enforcement tool to use at mines with a history of violating safety and health standards.

"As I've said many times before, the current POV system is broken, and this regulation is the next critical step in reforming the enforcement program under the existing statute," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "It would require mine operators to be much more proactive in monitoring their compliance performance and would eliminate two provisions in the existing regulation: the potential POV procedure and the requirement regarding final orders. Congress enacted this law 33 years ago, and not one mine has ever been placed on a POV."

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Construction Spending Lowest in a Decade

The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce reported that construction spending during December 2010 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $787.9 billion, 2.5 percent below the revised November estimate of $807.8 billion. The December figure is 6.4 percent below the December 2009 estimate of $841.8 billion.  The value of construction in 2010 was $814.2 billion, 10.3 percent below the $907.8 billion spent in 2009.

That is the lowest level of construction spending in a decade.

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Highway Construction Posts Gains in 2010

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. Nonresidential building rebounded after a weak November, and nonbuilding construction was lifted by the start of several large electric utility projects. Gains were registered by highway construction, which rose 7 percent. Meanwhile, residential building in December showed slight growth, continuing the gradual upward trend of recent months.

For 2010 as a whole, total construction starts dropped 2 percent to $412.5 billion, a less severe decline than the 24 percent plunge for 2009. Highway construction (the largest public works category) was still able to post a 3 percent gain for the year as a whole.

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