ARTBA Top Economist:
2006 was a Record Year for
Transportation Construction Market
The 2006 U.S. transportation construction market was the most robust in more than 20 years with the value of work on highways, bridges, airports and transit systems up 15 percent over the last year, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).
Fueled by increased federal, state and local highway investments, a $2.3 billion congressional appropriation for repair work on highways damaged by Hurricane Katrina and greater investments in freight rail, the total value of construction performed on transportation projects was expected to hit a record $106 billion in 2006, up from $92 billion in 2005, says ARTBA Vice President of Economics and Research Dr. William Buechner.
Highway and bridge construction provided much of the driving force for the 2006 growth. The value of construction work on highways and bridges grew almost $11 billion — or 16 percent — to $76.3 billion—the largest increase since 1984, when Congress was funding extra highway construction to help end a severe recession.
Some of the increased spending reflected higher construction costs, particularly for asphalt, cement and aggregates. But, even after accounting for higher costs, the real increase in highway and bridge construction was a robust eight percent or more, Buechner, a Harvard-trained economist, says.
Unlike 2005 and 2006, when rising construction costs ate up part of the dollar increase in highway construction spending, the purchasing power of construction budgets in 2007 may get an unexpected boost from declining construction material costs.
The 2005-06 inflation in highway construction costs appears to be slowing and may be ending. Falling petroleum prices are bringing down asphalt costs while the growth of worldwide cement capacity may help stabilize the cost of ready-mix concrete. The Producer Price Index for highway construction materials actually fell in August and September. If costs stay down, construction dollars in 2007 would buy more construction than in 2006, ARTBA says.
Buechner forecasts modest growth in the range of one to two percent for the U.S. highway and bridge construction market in 2007.
NPE Hosts Asphalt Institute Conference
Full-day training course available
National Pavement Expo announces the first-ever Asphalt Institute Conference on the Essentials of Asphalt Paving and Maintenance will be presented at National Pavement Expo, January 31-February 3, in Nashville, TN.
The one-day training conference taught by Asphalt Institute engineers and staff will highlight the fundamentals and "best practices" for producing high-quality, long lasting asphalt pavements. The four-session program will provide contractors a thorough overview of asphalt pavements, from the mix through construction and maintenance.
Pete Grass, president of the Asphalt Institute, said the Institute is pleased to partner with NPE to offer this new training opportunity for paving and maintenance professionals.
"We are delighted to provide this Asphalt Institute Conference with NPE for the first time in the Institute's 87-year history," said Grass. "Providing quality, well-maintained asphalt pavements is important for our industry, and this is an excellent opportunity to learn the fundamentals of asphalt paving and maintenance from Asphalt Institute engineers and staff. From materials and construction to maintenance and troubleshooting, this conference will give you a concise overview of the best practices for producing high-quality, long lasting asphalt pavements."
The Essentials of Asphalt Paving & Maintenance is being developed specifically for the paving and pavement maintenance contractors who attend NPE. The training session will take place Thursday, February 1, from 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. For no extra charge attendees will receive certificates of Professional Development Hours (PDHs) following each session.