"No one likes higher taxes, but everyone likes to drive on nice roads," he continues. "Make those who use it, pay for it. I think we'll see more of this user fee system in the future, and not just at the federal level, but at the state and local level as well."
The outlook for 2010
AC: In general, what will 2010 look like for asphalt highway contractors and producers?
Black, ARTBA: "2010 will be a good year with real growth of about 8% - we expect highway, street and bridge construction expenditures to reach $90 billion," she says. "This is largely due to a boost in federal spending through ARRA, which will help spur growth as the economy is beginning to recover.
"The ARRA funding is a welcome boost that will help the market in 2010 but will also make the timely passage of a robust federal surface transportation bill even more important," Premo Black continues. "Because the stimulus is a temporary injection of spending, we are looking at a market contraction in 2011, even with a broader economic recovery.
"However, an increase in federal investment will help provide a ?soft landing' in 2011 and could even provide continued growth in 2011," she concludes.
Basso, AASHTO: "ARRA gave this industry a boost in 2009," he says. "If 2009 levels are sustained in 2010, there will be a foundation under contractors. If 2009 levels aren't maintained, you'll start to see numbers sliding backward.
"Another problem is the cash-strapped states cutting budgets," he continues. "Hopefully they'll be able to find the money to continue projects as well."
Simonson, AGC: "In 2010, at best, we'll hang onto current levels," he says. "There was a good deal of stimulus dollars in 2009, so it will be a challenge to stay at those current levels."
Basu, ABC: "Highway construction is the brightest spot in the non-residential construction industry," he says. "Office construction, commercial construction and hotel/motel construction are all mired in recession.
"Keep in mind, what goes around, comes around," he cautions. "Those industries stimuluated by the government are having the best results, and there's been a lot of money spent on highways and roads. But at some point, public financing will shift. We're not there right now, but eventually there will be a time when the government focuses on other things.
"But, 2010 will be a decent year, one way or another," he concludes. "Whether the highway bill passes or not, we'll still have ARRA stimulus funds to keep things moving."