Asphalt Industry News December 2006

Americans Want Relief from Traffic Congestion
Voters support nearly $40 billion for transportation funding
Most voters asked at the ballot box November 7 whether they would support increasing their tax burden to fund transportation improvements overwhelmingly said "yes." In total, the measures would generate nearly $40 billion in new revenue for transportation infrastructure work, an American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) review finds.

Americans in 14 states voted on at least 30 transportation funding-related ballot initiatives in this year's election. Of the 30 ballot measures, 28 — or 93 percent — asked voters to initiate, extend or increase taxes, or approve bonds to fund transportation improvements. Twenty-three — 77 percent of the bond and tax measures — were approved. On average, voters approved the winning measures by 66 percent.

This included five state initiatives that were all approved. In California, voters approved a bond issue of up to $19.9 billion for transportation improvements and told state officials in a separate measure to stop diverting the state sales tax on motor vehicle fuels for non-transportation purposes.

In Minnesota, a new constitutional amendment will dedicate all of the sales tax from car and truck sales to highway and transit investment, which should generate $300 million each year. Voters in New Jersey increased the portion of the existing state gas tax that is dedicated to transportation, which is expected to generate an additional $78 million annually.

Local measures included eight initiatives to extend or renew an existing sales tax for transportation purposes (all eight were approved), 12 new taxes for transportation (eight approved, four were defeated) and two increases in existing sales or property taxes (both approved). A highway bond initiative, in Stafford, VA, was defeated. Spokane County, WA, had two advisory questions on transit funding. In both cases, voters defeated the proposals.

A summary of these and other transportation measures decided November 7 can be found online at

Deere Marks 50th Anniversary
Construction & Forestry Division created in fall 1956
It was 50 years ago when John Deere created its Industrial Equipment Division to provide a springboard for the company to enter the construction and forestry market. Today, the John Deere Construction & Forestry Division — so named in 2000 — distributes its construction, forestry and worksite products through a network of more than 1,300 dealer locations worldwide.

In 1956, company leaders saw an opportunity for the company's products to be adapted to the construction and forestry market.

"Fifty years later, the Construction & Forestry Division serves customers all over the world, with sales of nearly $6 billion," Bob Brock, senior vice president of sales and marketing, says. "And our construction equipment performs a full range of earthmoving and material handling work."

Ingersoll Rand Offers Reman Solutions
Program designed to reduce machine downtime
The Ingersoll Rand Reman Solutions program offers contractors cost-saving benefits and reduced machine downtime with remanufactured and warranty-backed paver and compactor replacement components. The Reman Solutions program covers motors, hydraulic pumps, torque hubs, starters and alternators.

These components are engineered and rebuilt through the program to provide the same or better power and functionality than the originals. Each component has a list of parts that are replaced 100 percent of the time, regardless of their condition. Ingersoll Rand Reman Solutions rigorously tests other parts used to remanufacture components to ensure the highest quality.

Ingersoll Rand backs Reman Solutions components with a one-year full parts warranty that includes labor when installed by a certified Ingersoll Rand technician.

There is no need for excessive machine downtime while components are being rebuilt. Ingersoll Rand keeps a large quantity of remanufactured components in stock for off-the-shelf availability.

Reman Solutions will offer additional components through this service in the future, including electronic components. For more information, contact an Ingersoll Rand road development dealer.

Producer Prices Drop in September
AGC: ‘Inflation vacation' likely to be short-lived
"Inflation took a vacation in September for most of the economy but remains a problem for construction materials," Ken Simonson, chief economist for The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), says. Simonson was commenting on the October 17 producer price index (PPI) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Plunging petroleum prices drove down the overall producer price index and moderated the increase in the PPI for construction materials and components," Simonson comments. "The PPI for finished goods plunged 1.1 percent for the month, before seasonal adjustment, and was up only 0.9 percent compared to September 2005. But the PPI for construction materials and components rose 0.3 percent, the same as in August, and had a year-over-year increase of 8.1 percent, nine times as much as the overall index.

"The 12-month increase for most construction inputs was milder than in the August report but still hard for contractors to either absorb or pass on," Simonson says. "For instance, the PPI for copper and brass mill shapes soared 75 percent from September 2005 to September 2006. Other large gains included asphalt paving mixtures, 33 percent; steel mill products, 23 percent; and gypsum and plastic construction products, 19 percent each.

"But two factors leave construction vulnerable to greater upward price pressure than the economy as a whole," Simonson explains. "First, the industry must generally use a fixed quantity of materials, unlike manufacturers that can make products smaller and lighter, or service businesses that use few materials. These materials are often in high demand worldwide, with limited supplies. Second, materials must be physically delivered, making them subject to high freight and fuel costs, as well as transportation bottlenecks.

"At the moment, falling diesel prices are helping contractors," Simonson concludes. "But I expect construction materials costs over the next year to rise at least 6 to 8 percent, versus 2 to 4 percent for the overall economy."

Maintenance Solution Available
TMTsoftware and Qualcomm integrate
Qualcomm Inc., a provider of business-to-business wireless enterprise applications and services, and TMTsoftware, a provider of fleet maintenance software, have announced the full integration of TMT's TRANSMAN, a maintenance management solution, with Qualcomm's GlobalTRACS equipment management system and OmniTRACS mobile communications system, creating a complete and automatic maintenance management solution that helps to manage the entire fleet maintenance process.

With the integration, TMTsoftware's TRANSMAN system receives hours and location details from the GlobalTRACS system and miles and location details from the OmniTRACS system on a scheduled basis. This integrated solution provides companies complete control over both their assets and workflow processes and significantly improves organizational efficiencies and profitability, because maintenance can be scheduled in a timely manner and only when needed.

The integrated solution is compatible with the GlobalTRACS and OmniTRACS systems already used by businesses worldwide, so construction equipment and transportation fleets can easily add this tool without changing their mobile systems.

Benefits include accurate hour meters and odometer readings for equipment, hours/miles maintenance predictions, automatic maintenance scheduling and timely information. TRANSMAN seamlessly works with back-office applications and is available in Microsoft Windows, iSeries and Internet environments. It also removes redundancies and cuts unnecessary costs such as manual maintenance tracking or logs.