Construction News Tracker Video: Highway Funding Patch Ignores Long-Term Need

  • Highway fund patch job approved
  • States with the poorest roads
  • Housing starts decline

That and more on Construction News Tracker brought to you by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com

Ten months – that’s the extended time the U.S. House of Representatives has given the nation’s road-building industry – along with $10.8 billion to fund infrastructure projects through next May.

It’s a dismal response to calls for raising the nation’s gas tax to cover the annual funding shortfall. With only days remaining before the fund runs dry, lawmakers voted 367 to 55 to scrape the money from pension smoothing, extended collection of customs fees, and hazardous waste cleanup fines.

During the TCC (Transportation Construction Coalition) Fly-In last month in Washington, D.C. hosted by AEM, we talked with many lawmakers, among them former House Transportation Committee chair John Mica (R-FL), who seeks some sort of a VMT, vehicle miles tax, to replace the gas tax.

Construction News Tracker Video: Transportation Funding Discussions

The U.S. Senate now has to deal with the hot-potato issue, as the clock keeps ticking toward an August 1st deadline when both houses recess for the summer.

In a nutshell, there’s $10.8 billion to cover the highway fund shortfall for ten months, but no consideration of a long term solution to put a giant patch on the future of highway money. It’s the 11th time since 2009 that a fund extension has been approved. It is essential that a long term funding solution such as a hike in the gas tax be reached for the health of the industry and American jobs.

 

The transportation nonprofit group TRIP has developed an analysis of states’ rural road and bridge conditions. The group claims six states – Connecticut, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Kansas, Hawaii and Michigan – have 30% or more of their major rural roads in disrepair, or their bridges are deemed structurally deficient.

And the group says it can all be traced back to the lack of money earmarked for infrastructure. Meanwhile, TRIP reports that states with the best rural road pavements are Nevada, Florida and Tennessee.

TRIP: America's Deficient Rural Roads and Bridges Yield High Fatality Rates

 

Housing starts and permits suffered a major drop in June according to the commerce department. On top of that, the April growth stats were revised downward from 7.3% to 6.5%. Groundbreaking for single-family homes is off 9.3%, the lowest since November of 2012. Multi-family housing permits were off 14.9%, while those of single-family homes rose 2.6%. Economists say they’re still upbeat for the last half of the 2014 housing market.

South Sinks US Housing Starts Another 9.3% in June

 

A $900-million expansion to Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, complex is set to begin soon, after the automaker announced it will build a new SUV model there. The state is kicking in $165 million for construction costs, and the company expects to hire 2,000 additional employees by 2017.

 

Five of nine spans of the Cleveland, Ohio, Innerbelt bridge were recently demolished by the Ohio DOT. It took 182 lb. of explosives placed at 88 points along the route and just a half second of time to send 10 million lb. of steel into the Cuyahoga River.

Interstate-90 traffic is using temporary roads as the replacement span is built.

 

Here we are, middle of summer, and we spend valuable weekend time mowing lawn. Well, relief is on the way.

An annual Red Dot design-awards competition is hosted by Appliance Retailer magazine, and 123 received honorable mention out of 4,800 entries.

The one that caught our eye is from Viking Industries, the folks that make the robot vacuum cleaner. iMow uses fixing pins placed along property perimeter as a guide for the mower, and even goes back to base in the event of rain. Just think, weekends free.

 

Finally, experience is the hardest teacher: it gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.

 

This is Construction News Tracker, watching out for the industry that makes the world a better place….brought to you by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.

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