For the asphalt road building industry, 2013 was relatively quiet compared to the previous year. In 2012, we saw the passage of MAP-21 (the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act). Unfortunately, because it was only a two-year bill, one thing we get to look forward to in the fall of 2014 is another highway bill battle. It took six years to get MAP-21 passed. I have a bad feeling that the next bill may take even longer with our do-nothing Congress.
One man who will have to dig in and fight for the highway bill is our new Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, former mayor of Charlotte. In July, Foxx was sworn in as the 17th Secretary of Transportation replacing former Illinois Congressman Ray LaHood — one of a handful of Republicans who served in the Obama administration. I’ll be meeting Foxx at a transportation summit sponsored by Volvo in a few weeks in Washington D.C. If anything interesting happens, I’ll be sure to report on it in the next issue.
For the last few years, Asphalt Contractor has featured its State of the Industry report in its December issue. This year, we again asked industry experts to look into their crystal balls and try to predict what 2014 is going to bring for our industry.
Of course, the next highway bill will be the big discussion for 2014, and how to fund it will be an even bigger conversation. Many of our experts represent industry associations that have been working on MAP-21’s predecessor since the day after MAP-21 was signed into law.
One area of concern for the next year mentioned by our experts is the current Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenue projections and the fact that there will not be enough funding for the Federal Highway Administration to reimburse states for new highway projects beginning in fiscal year 2015.
Our guest experts also looked at pavement preservation and its growing role in our industry, as well as the increased use of sustainable products like warm mix asphalt, recycled asphalt shingles, ground tire rubber and more.
We all know the asphalt industry has a long history of innovating and enhancing the sustainability of asphalt pavements, which helps improve worker safety, protect the environment, and save taxpayers’ money. Both pavement preservation and sustainable product usage will continue to grow in 2014.
Funding road and highway projects will be one of the great challenges in 2014, but overall it seems it may be another slow and steady year for asphalt contractors. Check out the full report on page 68 and let me know where you think 2014 is headed by emailing me at Lisa.Cleaver@cygnus.com
Here’s wishing you a merry holiday season and prosperous 2014!