Real Growth for 2020 Transportation Construction Market, ARTBA Chief Economist Says

he U.S. transportation infrastructure market is expected to grow at least 5 percent next year, according to the annual economic forecast released Dec. 4 by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

“The real market growth for 2020 is being fueled by increased transportation investments from federal, state and local governments,” says ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who conducted the analysis.

Total domestic transportation construction and related-market activity in 2020 should reach $300.4 billion, up from 2019’s $286.5 billion, after adjusting for project costs and inflation.

The transportation construction market grew by 8 percent in 2019 compared to 2018, driven largely by gains in highway, street and pavement work, which grew by $9.6 billion to $73.1 billion.

Airport construction work on runways and terminals increased by less than 1 percent in 2019 but was still at record investment levels.  Strong growth in the subway, light rail and mass transit sector, as well as private railroad investment helped support a strong year for transportation construction activity.

One variable, Black says, is the outlook for the reauthorization of the FAST Act transportation law, due in 2020, and the ability of Congress to find additional revenues to support the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).  Any project delays because states are concerned about whether the next federal surface transportation bill is completed in a timely matter could temper 2020 market growth, Black added.  

Overall, transportation construction market activity is expected to increase or be steady in about half of the states, the ARTBA analysis shows.  Some of the largest markets expected to remain stable or grow include Texas, California, Illinois, New York, Florida, North Carolina, Washington, Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin.

Black shared her findings during a Dec. 4 webinar for analysts, investors, transportation construction market executives, and public officials.

Other market variables include material prices, increased labor costs and labor shortages in some regions.   

Among the other key Black findings:

Public & Private Highway, Street & Related Construction  

  • The real value of public highway, street and related construction investment by state transportation departments and local governments—the largest market sector—is expected to increase by 6 percent to $77.5 billion after growing 15 percent in 2019.
  • Construction work on private highways, bridges, parking lots and driveways will increase from $69.1 billion in 2019 to $71.8 billion in 2020 and will continue to grow over the next five years as market activity increases in those sectors.

Bridges & Tunnels  

  • The pace of bridge and tunnel construction work stayed flat in 2019 and is forecast to grow by $800 million, or 3 percent, in 2020.  Bridge and tunnel market activity fell slightly from $28.8 billion in 2018 to $28.6 billion in 2019, after adjusting for project costs and inflation. 

Light Rail, Subways, & Railroads 

  • Public transit and rail construction are expected to grow from $23 billion in 2019 to $24.2 billion in 2020, a 5 percent increase. 
  • Subway and light rail investment are expected to reach a new record level, increasing from $10.3 billion this year to $11 billion in 2020.

Airport Runways & Terminals  

  • After growing 34 percent in 2018, airport terminal and related construction work, including structures like parking garages, hangars, air freight terminals and traffic towers, is estimated to increase from $18.5 billion in 2019 to $19.6 billion.
  • Runway work is forecasted to increase from $4.7 billion in 2019 to $4.9 billion in 2020.

Ports & Waterways 

  • The value of port and waterway investment should grow to $3.4 billion in 2020. Construction activity in 2019 was $3.3 billion, up from $2.5 billion in 2018. 

ARTBA’s forecast is based on a series of proprietary econometric models for each mode and analysis of federal, state and local data and market intelligence. The full forecast can be purchased at

Established in 1902, ARTBA represents the U.S. transportation construction industry before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, courts, news media and the general public. 

An extensive review of the ARTBA 2020 Forecast and other related materials will be available in the January issues of all Associated Construction Publications (ACP).

2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Lit in Special Ceremony

Transported by Kenworth W990 and Wilbanks Trucking Services

After a journey of more than 2,000 miles from New Mexico, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was lit in a special ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 4, on the Capitol’s West Lawn.

The tree was harvested Nov. 6 in New Mexico’s Carson National Forest and transported to Washington, D.C., with a Kenworth W990 operated by Wilbanks Trucking Services in Artesia, New Mexico. The special 60-foot Blue Spruce is decorated with LED lights, along with ornaments made by schoolchildren in New Mexico.

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree tour, which began Nov. 11 in Red River, New Mexico, and ended Nov. 24 at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, made 30 stops for community events while traveling across the nation. Thousands of people saw the tree and the Kenworth W990 during the stops and going down the highway.

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting – Wilbanks Trucking Services2

Shown are representatives of Wilbanks Trucking Services, which used a Kenworth W990 to transport the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from New Mexico to Washington, D.C.
From left are: Josh Garcia, Field Superintendent, and second W990 driver; Nathan Cornil, IT Manager; Shane Phipps, Safety Director; Lance Wilbanks, CEO; Jeremy Rice, Field Superintendent; Brumbach Stephens, Salesman and third W990 driver; and Josh Rice, Terminal Manager & Crane Manager, and first W990 driver. 
– Photo courtesy of Paul Feenstra

“It was an honor for Kenworth to provide a truck to transport the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree for the sixth consecutive year. Thanks to Wilbanks Trucking Services and its drivers for delivering the Tree safely and on-time and playing an important role in this very special tradition and celebration that brings communities together,” said Laura Bloch, Kenworth assistant general manager for sales and marketing.

The Kenworth W990, which is equipped with a 76-inch mid-roof sleeper, also features the PACCAR Powertrain with the PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 455-hp and 1,650 lb-ft of torque, PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission, and PACCAR 40K tandem rear axles. The truck is also specified with the W990 Limited Edition interior, premium Kenworth GT703 seats and audio system, Kenworth Nav+HD, predictive cruise control, 1800W inverter, 180-degree swivel passenger seat, and Kenworth TruckTech+® Remote Diagnostics. 

This year’s theme was “Delivering Enchantment!” On the side of the Kenworth W990 hood, the graphics wrap showcased New Mexico’s state flag, along with Ship Rock, a 7,177 foot-high mountain rock that resembles a 19th century clipper ship. On the door and sleeper, the U.S. Capitol Building was shown with a Christmas tree, with the wording: “From the Land of Enchantment to Enchanting the Nation” written above the graphics. 

The tradition of the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree started in 1964 by then-U.S. Speaker of the House John W. McCormack, who planted a live tree on the Capitol lawn. That tree lived three years before succumbing to wind and root damage. In 1970, the Capitol Architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree. Since then, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide “The People’s Tree.” 

Kenworth is The Driver’s Truck. See what drivers are saying at

Rental Hall of Fame inductees announced

Two industry veterans will become the newest inductees into the Rental Hall of Fame. Charles Neffle and Thomas Fouts will be formally inducted on Feb. 9, 2020, at The ARA Show in Orlando, Fla.

Each year, the American Rental Association (ARA) honors individuals who have made a significant impact on the equipment and event rental industry at the national or international level. Charles Neffle and Thomas Fouts will be formally inducted during a ceremony on Feb. 9, 2020, at The ARA Show™ in Orlando, Fla.

ARA created the Rental Hall of Fame in 2000 to foster an appreciation of the historical development of the equipment and event rental industry and the leaders who helped the industry grow and expand. Each year, nominations are accepted to recognize individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the industry.

Here is more information on the newest inductees:

Charles Neffle, All Occasions Event Rental, Cincinnati, Ohio

Charles Neffle’s active service to ARA began in 1995 when he served on the Advertising and Marketing Committee. In the coming years, there was no committee that he wasn’t part of. He moved on to serve on the ARA board, ultimately serving as ARA president in 2001-2002. During his tenure on the board, he was instrumental in the development of the Certified Event Rental Professional (CERP) program, assisting in the selection of ARA’s third CEO and the development of a strategic plan for the association.

After serving as president, Neffle went on to chair the ARAPAC Council from 2004-2006, serve on the ARA Insurance Limited board from 2007-2009 and chair the ARA Foundation board of trustees in 2009-2010.

Neffle was honored with the Meritorious Service Award in 1996 and the Distinguished Service Award in 2004. He was recognized with the ARA Foundation Loyal Donor Recognition Award in 2005 and the ARA Foundation James Keenan Award in 2007.

Today, Neffle serves as chair of All Occasions Event Rental. The company recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Thomas Fouts, Bledsoe Rentals, Lees Summit, Missouri
Tom Fouts began working in rental in 1970 and attended his first ARA convention in 1973 where he decided to make the rental industry his career.

Fouts has been dedicated to promoting the equipment and event rental industry and ARA on local, state and national levels throughout his 49-year career in the industry. He was an officer on the ARA board for five years and has served on more than 20 local and national committees and boards. 

During his tenure on the Education Committee, he helped develop education, safety and management training systems and the “Making It Work” video training series. These paved the way for many Rental U courses in the areas of rental store management and day-to-day operations. He also helped develop the RenTech educational programs during a three-year term as chair of the General Tool Shared Interest Group. 

In 2002, Fouts presented “Operation ID,” which he structured to create “Intentional Development” of leadership for local and state associations. The program was presented at multiple ARA Leadership Conferences for local and state associations to recognize strengths and weaknesses, identify individuals with leadership potential and develop processes to support stronger associations. 

Following his service on the ARA Board, Fouts served on the Rental Management Advisory Board and also served on and co-chaired the ARA Insurance Services Captive Board. Fouts has attended ARA’s National Legislative Caucus more than 20 times. On the local level, he worked to eliminate personal property tax on rental equipment and was successful obtaining stronger theft of services legislation. 

Today, Fouts serves as chair of Bledsoe Rentals and as the coordinator of the ARA Past Presidents group. 

About ARA: (www.ARArental.orgThe American Rental Association, Moline, Ill., is an international trade association for owners of equipment and event rental businesses and the manufacturers and suppliers of construction/industrial, general tool and party/event rental equipment. ARA members, which include more than 11,000 rental businesses and more than 1,000 manufacturers and suppliers, are located in every U.S. state, every Canadian province and more than 30 countries worldwide. Founded in 1955, ARA is the source for information, advocacy, education, networking and marketplace opportunities for the equipment and event rental industry throughout the world.

AEM Announces Advocates Program Award Winners

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) announced the 2019 recipients of its annual Advocates Program awards, which recognize outstanding commitment by AEM members to industry advocacy efforts. 

This year, 25 member companies received AEM Advocates Program Gold awards for achieving the highest level of participation in grassroots advocacy.

In addition, one company – Weiler – received the Advocates Program’s highest honor, the Pillar of the Industry award, for reaching Gold status for five consecutive years.

 “These companies are helping lead the way for our advocacy efforts and we want to publicly thank them for their outstanding commitment and participation,” said AEM President Dennis Slater. “They are on the front lines as we educate lawmakers on the importance of the off-road equipment industry and manufacturing to local economies and quality of life throughout America.”

The AEM Advocates Program recognizes and celebrates AEM member companies that help advance the industry’s policy priorities through various advocacy efforts, including participating in the association’s grassroots advocacy program, I Make America

I Make America is AEM’s signature program building grassroots support and advocating for pro-manufacturing policies that create and sustain jobs across America.

“Through our advocacy efforts and the strong participation of our member companies, the association is building valuable relationships with elected officials and advancing the industry’s policy priorities through pro-manufacturing legislation,” said AEM Senior Vice President of Government and Industry Relations Kip Eideberg. “We have scored many important wins this year, and this is in large part due to the efforts of the 1.3 million men and women of our industry. We are grateful for their ongoing support and engagement.”

AEM presented the Advocates Program awards at its recent annual conference of member companies. Learn more about AEM at   

2019 Pillar of the Industry Award Winner

  • Weiler

2019 Gold Award Winners

  • AGCO Corporation
  • Blount International
  • Calder Brothers Corporation
  • Caterpillar Inc.
  • CLAAS of America, Inc.
  • CNH Industrial
  • Cummins Inc.
  • Custom Products of Litchfield, Inc.
  • Deere & Company
  • Doosan Bobcat
  • Dynapac North America LLC
  • General Kinematics
  • HCC Inc.
  • JLG Industries Inc.
  • Kinze Manufacturing Inc.
  • Komatsu America Corp.
  • Kondex Corporation
  • Kuhn North America Inc.
  • Manitowoc Crane Group
  • Stellar Industries Inc.
  • Superior Industries
  • Trimble Inc.
  • Vermeer Corporation
  • Volvo Construction Equipment
  • VT LeeBoy Inc.

For more information about I Make America, please visit .          

About AEM
AEM is the North American-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers, with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide. The equipment manufacturing industry in the United States supports 1.3 million jobs and contributes roughly $159 billion to the economy every year.

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to wish all of you, your families and friends a Happy Thanksgiving.

The other day I received the following in an email from a longtime friend and it made me think that of all that I have in my life for which to be grateful, friends are the top of the list.

We are all part of each others lives. Thank you for letting me be part of your life and for being a part of my life. All of our lives touch each others in one way or another. Edgar Rice Burroughs paints a verbal picture of this human relationship in his book Tarzan Triumphant:


“Time is the warp of the tapestry which is life. It is eternal, constant, unchanging. But the woof is gathered together from the four corners of the earth and the twenty-eight seas and out of the air and the minds of men by that master artist, Fate, as she weaves the design that is never finished.

“A thread from here, a thread from there, another from out of the past that has waited years for the companion thread without which the picture must be incomplete.

“But Fate is patient. She waits a hundred or a thousand years to bring together two strands of thread whose union is essential to the fabrication of her tapestry, to the composition of the design that was without beginning and is without end.”

All of us add to the tapestries that are our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving… Have a wonderful day.

Greg Sitek & Baby