Help Protect Your Business

As a rule we don't get involved in politics in this space, but we're making an exception for the National Infrastructure Improvements Act of 2006. A bipartisan bill introduced in March, it would establish a National Commission on the Infrastructure of the United States to "ensure the nation's infrastructure meets current and future demands and facilitates economic growth."

There's little disagreement that U.S. infrastructure is in a woeful state of repair. From the levees in New Orleans (which are actually the impetus for the legislation) to the nation's bridges and roads, the physical structures that connect and support us are falling apart. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers put a $1.6 trillion dollar pricetag on repairs just to bring us up to par.

Why is this important to this industry? Because virtually all Pavement readers either work on the nation's infrastructure, primarily roads, or are affected by contractors who do. If you work on roads you are directly affected by the government's infrastructure commitment. But even if you work strictly on off-road pavements you are still affected and here's why: When government cuts back on the money it earmarks for road work, the contractors who typically do that work must find other work to do. They have employees to support and overhead to cover, and they simply can't wait for the government to decide to spend more money on roads. So they look at what they do–often paving or pavement repair–and they find other markets where they can ply their services. Most often those markets are parking lots and low-volume roads. When these on-road contractors move into off-road work, their main goal is to get the job and keep their company running. So they are likely to underbid you. (This is especially true of large paving contractors who produce their own mix and can therefore "buy" it at much lower cost than you can.) That either causes you to lose the job or to start bidding at a lower level. This is a common occurrence we see just about every time the economy slides more than a little, so anything we can do to encourage investment in infrastructure helps not only the country and the economy but this industry and your business. For a closer look at the bill itself, visit www.theorator.com/bills109/s2388.html. You can also contact your representative or senators from the site.

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