As we went to press with this issue, Congress had just returned from recess and was still preparing to debate a long-term highway funding bill. At the end of July, the Senate passed its version of the long-term surface transportation bill—the DRIVE Act—by a 65-34 vote. The House of Representatives is scheduled to debate its version of the legislation hopefully very soon.
As Congress debates, a recent report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) estimates the transportation construction industry’s impact on the U.S. economy is larger than the annual Gross Domestic Product of 160 nations.
The study, authored by the ARTBA’s Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, finds the money invested in transportation construction industry employment and purchases generates almost $510 billion in annual U.S. economic activity — and accounts for 1.6% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The construction transportation sector’s contribution to the U.S. economy is larger than the annual GDP of 160 nations ranked by the International Monetary Fund, including: Denmark ($361.3 billion); Israel ($321.2 billion); Ireland ($252.6 billion); and New Zealand ($211.4 billion).
The report, "The 2015 U.S. Transportation Construction Industry Profile" estimates the annual value of public and private transportation construction and maintenance work will be nearly $275 billion in 2015. It ranks larger than U.S. industry sectors such as wireless communications carriers ($254 billion); food and beverage stores ($222.5 billion); insurance agencies and brokers ($219.5 billion); nursing care facilities ($171.1 billion); aircraft manufacturing ($158.3 billion); and automobile manufacturing ($131.4 billion), among others.
In other words, it’s a huge segment of our economy that shouldn’t be receiving the disrespect it’s been getting from those in Washington.
Black warns in the report that the uncertainty over the fate of the highway funding bill is a major threat to the overall efficiency of our nation’s transportation network. Without funding, congestion will only worsen and put a damper on economic growth. The U.S. Department of Transportation has identified a backlog of $877 billion in highway and bridge construction projects across the country.
As an asphalt contractor in the road building industry, you already know the implications of the system of patches our industry has been working under for the last 10 years. Now is not the time to be quiet – keep the pressure on those in Washington so we can get a long-term fix for highway funding.
ARTBA has an easy one-stop shop for contacting your representative on its website: http://www.artba.org/government-affairs/grassroots-action-center/