What's coming down the road in 2013?

As I write this column, America has just voted to re-elect Barack Obama as president, and to keep Democrats in control of the Senate and Republicans leading the House – basically maintaining the division of power that has existed at the federal level since 2011.

While the status quo seems to have been maintained with the division of power, there will most likely be some changes to the transportation committee in Congress. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who helped pass MAP-21 earlier this year, is facing a term-limit as ranking member when Congress convenes next year. And the House Transportation Committee is likely to be taken over by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).

Because MAP-21 is only a two-year bill, these committees will be very active in the next year.

Voters on November 6 showed once again the importance of transportation by approving 68% of the measures to increase or extend funding for highways, bridges and transit.

The total value approved was $2.4 billion. ARTBA tracked 31 measures overall — five were statewide initiatives and 26 were local. All of the seven bond initiatives were approved by voters.

Eighteen measures were for increasing, extending or renewing a sales tax for transportation purposes, two were property tax extensions and one was for a local gas tax. That’s great news for our industry.

But what does the re-election of President Obama mean for transportation initiatives? Most seem to think it’s good news. “I think … surface transportation [funding] levels are safe,” Joshua Schank, president of the nonpartisan Eno Center for Transportation, said to The Hill in an assessment of the election. “I’d be very surprised to see the president and a Democratic Senate accept a cut to transportation funding.”

Now that the election (and the political commercials and Robocalls) are behind us, let’s look forward to what the next year will bring.

We’ve asked some asphalt industry experts to predict what 2013 has in store for the asphalt industry. We’ve also asked them about how MAP-21 will affect the industry, where they think future funding may come from if it’s not from tax increases, and what role pavement preservation plays in our industry.

See page 56 for Asphalt Contractor’s 2013 State of the Industry special report.

As always, I would love to hear what you think is going to happen in the coming year. Drop me a line at Lisa.Cleaver@cygnus.com.

Happy New Year!