Lookin' Good

Editorial for the March 2005 issue of Asphalt Contractor magazine.

While the Bush Administration's FY 2006 Budget is bound to leave a sour taste in the mouths of many program proponents who have been put on the chopping block, road and transportation builders should find some comfort in knowing the new budget supports TEA-21 reauthorization.

The Bush Administration is proposing to increase its federal highway and transit investment recommendations to the levels proposed by House Republicans during the 2004 highway bill negotiations, according to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. The Administration's new TEA-21 reauthorization financing proposal would provide $283.9 billion in guaranteed highway, transit and safety investments through 2009. The new proposal is an increase of approximately $28 billion from the guaranteed funding the Administration recommended last year. The increase amounts to a cumulative 5.5 percent increase above current levels of federal highway and transit investment after adjusting for projected inflation.

While the amount falls short of the industry's original request and any amount approved may never be enough to address the growing infrastructure needs of this country, the Administration's proposal is nothing to sneeze at and it should enable state and local agencies to move forward with planned projects.

Another encouraging indication of the economy's health and road construction in particular, is the flurry of activity found at trade shows.

The recent 20th Annual National Pavement Expo in Atlanta was abuzz with contractors looking for equipment and products that would improve their productivity, expand their product and service offerings, and help them make money. And these show attendees were looking to buy.

If the optimism and interest witnessed at the NPE Show is a precursor of what we can expect at ConExpo-Con/Agg in Las Vegas, the show will unquestionably generate substantial dividends for both exhibitors and attendees. Contractors attend the show to meet with top management from leading manufacturers who exhibit at the show. Contractors attend the show to discuss problems and opportunities with their industry peers. Contractors attend the show to see and evaluate the latest innovative equipment developments on display, and they compare the features and benefits of competing brands. And yes, contractors attend the show to buy equipment — equipment that will improve their productivity and generate additional profits.

So with a road budget in place and the largest international gathering of construction equipment and materials ready and ripe with opportunity, put on your walking shoes and have at it. And unlike the commercial that says, "What goes on in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas," look for an idea or product you can bring home to improve your business.

Greg Udelhofen, Editor