So Long 2009,Welcome 2010

I'm happy to see this year come to a close. Whether you referred to it as an economic downturn or full-fledged recession, 2009 has been a tough year, and I think it's safe to say that we're all looking for a better 2010.

In a special report on the ?2010 Industry Forecast (page 60),? economic experts shed some light on how they think the coming road construction season should pan out for the asphalt industry. The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulated the asphalt production and construction industry in 2009, and it will continue to stimulate the industry in 2010. The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) anticipates highway, street and bridge construction expenditures to reach $90 billion in 2010 due largely to federal spending through the stimulus bill.

The Transportation Construction Coalition's recent nationwide survey of road and transit construction businesses reports that over 40% of the responding construction firms anticipate additional lay-offs and 80% anticipate a market decline if action on a new highway bill is delayed.

Passage of a new robust federal surface transportation bill is critical to the success of the stimulus program. Without new legislation soon, many large multi-year projects that need to be cued up for improvements will again be delayed and progress to improve this nation's transportation lifeline will be stymied.

As we continue to extol the benefits of a substantially-funded federal highway bill - creating more jobs, creating safer roads to reduce deaths and injuries, reducing productive time lost to congested commuter bottlenecks, reducing fuel consumption and resulting emissions from idling vehicles - the long-term economic vitality of this country in a competitive global environment is paramount.

As other countries around the world invest in building infrastructure, the United States barely maintains aging systems. Transportation, water and sewer, and electrical systems are part of our daily life, yet all are crumbling and in desperate need of funding.

Companies will continue to locate or relocate to places that provide an infrastructure that supports their business objectives. And, if a state-of-the-art surface transportation system isn't in place to provide a cost-effective way to ship orders in and out of their production facilities, those companies will look for a place that provides that level of service.

Our leaders and Washington, and all of us for that matter, need to make sure companies have the infrastructure they need to manufacture and ship product right here in the United States.

I don't have a crystal ball, but I sincerely believe 2010 will be a better year. Jobs will be created and we will continue to build and maintain the roads, bridges and other infrastructure systems we need to be a global player. We all have to do our part to make it happen and inspire others to make it happen.

Here's to your success in 2010.

Greg Udelhofen, Editor