[VIDEO] White House and Congress Talking About Raising the Gas Tax

The White House's detailed legislative plan for the anticipated infrastructure spending bill may include a call to raise the gas tax; plus more construction industry news on the January 11, 2018 edition of Construction News Tracker

Construction News Tracker is presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.

The 2018 Construction Global Outlook from Moodys is stable thanks to rising demand in the U.S offsetting low European growth in the next 12 to 18 months. Moodys Analyst Goetz Brossman reports that competition will offer tight margins, and while interest rates will remain low, fuel prices, infrastructure spending and private investment will boost sector revenues by up to 6%. Moderate growth expectations continue in the U.S. in the mid single digits and competitive market conditions. The report also indicates Canadian construction growth on a similar path this year.

ABC: 2018 Construction Outlook Stable, Cost Increase Risks Exist

The Dodge Momentum Index saw its second consecutive month over month increase in November rising 13.9% to a 149.5 mark after falling short in October with a revised reading of 131.3. Dodge Data and Anayltics reported that the commercial sector rose 19.6% and institutional was up 5.5% for the month. Overall the Dodge Index rose a substantial 21% from the same month in 2016 with commercial construction up 24% and industrial 17% month to month.

What's the status of our anticipated infrastructure spending bill? That's anyone's guess. The White House plans to submit a detailed legislative plan to the Congress any time now outlining the White House vision. A roughly 70-page infrastructure document is in the works in the House that may include a call to raise the gas tax. The plan is to have states cough up $200 billion in seed commitments to leverage a trillion worth of investment.

The package is divided into four sectors:

  • incentives to local governments to raise their own seed money
  • block grants for rural areas
  • money for transformational projects
  • infrastructure financing programs

November saw the largest U.S. home sales monthly increase in 25 years, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The increase pushed the sales volume to a fresh 10-year record, and the supply of homes for sale shrank to its lowest in 21 years. The hot home market rose 17.5% for November to 733,000 units, far exceeding October.

US Housing Construction Continued to Strengthen in November

Housing Market Index Reaches Highest Level in 18 Years

Has the Trump Administration accomplished anything in the way of business progress over the last year? According to the New York Times, the answer is yes. Investment in new plants and equipment as well as business upgrades has resulted as executives tally up progress resulting from the administration's regulatory pullback. Cost benefit analysis generally do not look at regulatory impact but on other factors, and the idea that no new heavy handed regulations are coming from the Trump Administration has American business leaders with a sense of optimism that none is forthcoming  which alone will put dollars to their bottom lines.

Driving in Michigan this winter? Don’t be too surprised to spot a Google self driving car traveling with you. Waymo, which is owned by Google's parent company Alphabet, will test drive a number of self driving vehicles in and around Detroit to check out cold weather conditions including snow, sleet on pavement and frigid temperatures. Waymo recently opened its new development center in nearby Novi, MI, and is expanding its on road vehicle research.

Here we are in the midst of winter conditions that test ones resolve, but for one Drexel Univeristy professor the climate is a boon as he is testing concrete that can de-ice itself. Engineering professor Yagood Farnam, working with colleagues at Purdue and Oregon State, has developed a technique that melts ice on concrete by soaking porous rock fragments with paraffin oil before being used to make concrete. As the oil freezes it releases heat, and because of temperature differences, it prevents ice or snow from sticking to the concrete. They've already managed to take five inches of snow and have it vanish within 24 hours on the pre-treated product. By introducing this to the marketplace just think of the vast amounts of maintenance dollars saved over the long haul.

World of Concrete begins January 22nd at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This year's exposition promises to be one of the largest ever, with plenty of exhibitors on hand to show off their products and new techniques. There's still time for you to register, and we encourage your participation. You can find all the information at worldofconcrete.com, and we hope to see you there.

In closing, like winter snow on summer lawn, time past is time gone.

This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes the world a better place, presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.

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