Making History

The do-nothing congress has finally done something. And it is actually historic.

In a major victory for the aggregates industry, Congress voted to approve and President Obama signed, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST Act. The $305 billion, five-year bill passed the House by a vote of 359 to 65 and the Senate by a vote of 83 to 16.

Much has been written about the bill, which boosts highway spending by 15 percent and transit spending by 18 percent.

There has also been a fair amount of criticism, as Congress could not bring itself to raise gas taxes to bolster the Highway Trust Fund, or put in place levels of investment concurrent with the amount of work necessary to bring America’s infrastructure up to 21st century levels.

That is a major missed opportunity.

Although there is some negative, let’s not let that cast too long a shadow upon the positive, which is five full years of guaranteed infrastructure investment.

After 36 temporary extensions, the bill was a long time coming. Much credit is due to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association and its members for their indefatigable effort to push this legislation through to the finish line.

A new analysis by the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) shows the significant economic impact the FAST Act will have on construction equipment distributors and manufacturers.

AED’s state-by-state projection estimates bill will generate more than $13 billion in equipment market activity (sales, rental and product support) nationwide through 2020. The aggregates industry will be one of the major downstream beneficiaries of the economic windfall.

The monies will start to flow this year. All aggregates producers would do well to closely examine operating efficiencies, and make sure all of the components are in place to meet the demand that will surely come in the subsequent years. That means capitalizing where needed, streamlining capacity and making sure you have the labor in place to operate effectively.

Happy New Year. It’s going to be a good one.

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