Tag Archive for 'bridges'

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ABC Reports: Construction Materials Prices Fall 1.1 Percent In November

CEU2 “Investors may be reducing their positions in economically sensitive commodities in response to fears regarding America’s fiscal cliff.” —ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

Producer Prices - December 2012Summary

In a sign of a weak global economy, the nation’s construction materials prices fell 1.1 percent in November—the largest monthly decrease since February 2009—according to the producer price index report by the U.S. Department of Labor. However, prices are 1 percent higher than the same time last year.

Nonresidential construction materials prices dipped 1.3 percent for the month, but are up 0.6 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Prices for steel mill products decreased 1.3 percent for the month and are down 9.1 percent compared to one year ago. Nonferrous wire and cable prices were down 1.2 percent compared to October and were down 3.8 percent from the same time last year. Prices for prepared asphalt, tar roofing and siding slipped 0.5 percent for the month, but were 1.4 percent higher than in November 2011. Prices for concrete products were unchanged for the month and increased 2 percent since the same time last year. Prices for plumbing fixtures and fittings were unchanged for the month and were 1.6 percent higher than one year ago.

In contrast, softwood lumber prices jumped 5.3 percent for the month after dipping 2.7 percent in October. Year over year, softwood lumber prices are up 13.7 percent. Iron and steel prices increased 1.8 percent for the month, but were down 7.9 percent during the past 12 months. Prices for fabricated structural metal products inched up 0.2 percent for the month are up 0.4 percent year over year.

Crude energy materials prices decreased 0.7 percent in November, driven by a 7.5 percent drop in crude petroleum prices. Year over year, crude energy materials prices are down 9.5 percent.

Overall, the nation’s wholesale goods prices fell 0.8 percent in November, but are 1.4 percent higher than the same time last year.


“One of the advantages of a weak global economy is that demand growth is suppressed, which results in smaller price increases,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “This past month, prices actually declined, perhaps a reflection of weaker performance in certain Asian economies, as well as ongoing slowing in parts of Latin America and throughout Europe.

“Investors also may be reducing their positions in economically sensitive commodities in response to fears regarding America’s fiscal cliff,” Basu said. “If America falls off its fiscal cliff, it will slow both the U.S. and global economies, resulting in less demand for steel, petroleum and other inputs.

“Given elevated levels of geopolitical uncertainty, contractors can expect greater volatility in materials prices in 2013 compared to 2012,” said Basu. “With construction materials prices up 1 percent in the past year, it is unlikely prices will remain as sustained in 2013 given a host of political and economic considerations. Accordingly, contractors will need to be more careful in their contractual dealings next year over the concern of unexpected price hikes.”

To view the previous PPI report, click here.

Education At 2013 World Of Asphalt And AGG1: Real-World Solutions To Improve Productivity, Profit Margins

90-plus learning sessions offered; new asphalt environment, health and safety conference co-locates

Attendees at the 2013 World of Asphalt and AGG1 exhibitions can take advantage of more than 90 learning opportunities to explore industry innovations and best practices, with the emphasis on practical, real-world information and strategies.

Attendees will gain a more well-rounded knowledge of the technological, regulatory, safety and operational/management trends affecting their ability to run efficient and profitable businesses.

“Continuous-learning is key for business and professional success; that’s why the shows offer a broad range of education as a fundamental industry service,” stated Show Manager Rich Prausa.

“AGG1 and World of Asphalt are an affordable investment with lasting value for attendees and their companies – convenient access to so much industry education and networking, and the latest product technologies on the show floor (already at record size!),” added Prausa.

The co-located AGG1 Aggregates Academy & Expo and World of Asphalt Show & Conference will be held March 19-21, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, focused on the aggregates, asphalt, pavement maintenance and traffic safety sectors.

New streamlined education ticket purchase procedure

New for the 2013 shows is a more flexible education ticket program that does not require attendees to pre-register for specific sessions in the AGG1 Academy and People Plants and Paving Training Program. Tickets purchased can be used for any session offered.

Advance registration open

Advance registration is open for AGG1 and World of Asphalt, with 40-percent savings on show admission for those registering by February 22, 2013.

For education, attendees receive the best value if they take advantage of early-bird pricing through December 31, 2012. Smaller education discounts are still available through February 22, 2013. Fees for multiple-session passes for AGG1 Academy and People, Plants and Paving Training Program include show admission.

New and returning education programs outlined

  • New for 2013 is co-location of a first-ever conference tailored exclusively to issues of environment, health, and safety (EH&S) at the asphalt plant and paving site. “Beyond Compliance: Achieving EH&S Excellence” is set for March 18-19 just prior to show opening. Organized by NAPA-National Asphalt Pavement Association, the conference will provide practical, timely and relevant information on managing current hazards and risks in the asphalt pavement industry.
  • The AGG1 Academy will offer aggregates-related sessions for aggregates producers, their suppliers and, often, their customers in four “schools”: Operations and Production; Automation, Technology and Software; Business Management; and Environment, Safety and Health, designed specifically by members of NSSGA-National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association to meet industry needs. The Academy covers virtually every aspect of the aggregates industry, ranging from 101-level classes to higher-level seminars on advanced concepts and technologies.
  • The People, Plants and Paving Training Program targets paving contractors of all sizes. Sponsored by NAPA, it covers asphalt-related industry innovations over six tracks: Sustainability (how asphalt fits in), Safety (latest innovations and strategies for crew and plant operator safety), Pavement Preservation (techniques to extend pavement life), Paving (techniques for safe and smooth quality pavements at optimum efficiency and enhanced profitability), Plants (evaluating and improving plant performance for peak operating levels) and Management & Leadership (skills to help personnel reach maximum performance).
  • A “Safety in the Work Zone” safety seminar will be presented by ARTBA-American Road and Transportation Builders Association. Sessions will focus on reducing work zone liabilities and preventing run-overs and back-overs, as well as instruction on using the Roadway Safety+ training program, a comprehensive safety curriculum with materials available at no charge to the transportation construction community from ARTBA.
  • A “Values-Based Leadership” seminar is open to all show attendees. This is an AGG1 Academy Special Event with Charles “Charlie” Luck, IV, of Luck Companies. The seminar, which includes an interactive breakout session, is designed to unlock the potential of employees to deliver breakthrough business performance while positively impacting lives around the world.
  • And, an AGG1 Operational Tour of the CEMEX Balcones Quarry and Cement Plant will highlight this top-producing quarry’s commitment to sustainability, biodiversity and energy efficiency, and its efforts to improve energy efficiency and responsibly manage the lands within and around its operation.

World of Asphalt is owned by National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) with Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA). AGG1 is owned by NSSGA. AEM produces both shows.

For more information on attending or exhibiting at AGG1 and World of Asphalt, visit www.agg1.org and www.worldofasphalt.com

ASCE Reports: Shuster Elected T&I Chairman

House Republicans officially elected Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) to chair the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 113th Congress. Congressman Shuster will take the gavel from Chairman John Mica (R-FL), who held the chairmanship for the past two years and served as ranking member for four years before that. Chairman Mica was not eligible to run for Chairman again, due to term limit rules in the GOP conference.

Shuster spoke with reporters after his selection on Wednesday, outlining issues the Committee will tackle in the next Congress. Shuster stated that he intends to work on a WRDA bill early next year, and will then move a passenger rail bill, and finally lay groundwork for the next surface transportation reauthorization. In the near term Shuster will be focused on the continued funding issues for surface transportation and stated that all options are on the table. Raising the gas tax, tying increased energy production to infrastructure funding, a fee on vehicle miles traveled, and expanded tolling could all be considered according to the Chairman-elect, but the creation of a national infrastructure bank or devolving the federal role in transportation to the states will not be on the table.

ASCE congratulates Congressman Shuster on his election and we look forward to working with him and his staff in the 113th Congress!

PCA Reports: Cement Consumption Will Rise or Fall Based on Timing of Resolution

Although cement consumption and overall U.S. construction activity increased significantly more than expected in 2012, these gains would be immediately erased in 2013 if the fiscal cliff is not resolved in a timely manner.

A forecast from the Portland Cement Association (PCA) expects a 7.5 percent jump in cement consumption in 2012, up 50 basis points from its summer forecast. However, the instability of the political landscape makes projecting 2013 consumption more challenging.

The “fiscal cliff” came about from dual economic objectives reflecting the need to inject fiscal stimulus into an inert economy and the need to deal with burgeoning federal debt. Packaged together as the Budget Control Act of 2011, tax increases of $400 billion coupled with $200 billion in federal spending cuts are scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2013.

If Congress resolves the fiscal cliff during its lame duck session in 2012, PCA expects the economy to continue to grow and cement consumption in 2013 to increase 6 percent. Adversely, even if Congress addresses the policies by the first quarter of 2013, this delay will cause significant economic harm and cause a 2.7 drop in cement consumption.

“Because we believe the odds for either outcome are even, we have adopted a forecasting approach that minimizes up and downside risk,” Ed Sullivan, PCA chief economist said. “Our baseline scenario blends the two possible outcomes and projects a 1.8 percent increase in cement consumption in 2013.”

Sullivan also reported that the longer Congress delays in addressing the fiscal cliff, the greater the adverse affect on economic growth and construction activity in particular. “If no action is taken by mid-2013, the country could be headed into a severe recession.”

According to the PCA report, cement consumption through September 2012 had increased 10 percent compared to last year, with 16 consecutive months of growth. Sullivan attributes this growth to the return of consumer confidence, a strong housing market, and most importantly, growth in employment.

About PCA

The Portland Cement Association, based in Skokie, Ill., represents cement companies in the United States and Canada. It conducts market development, engineering, research, education, and public affairs programs. For additional information, visit www.cement.org.

ARTBA-Backed Rule Change Will Reduce Bridge Project Delays & Could Save Nearly $80 Million

A change in the way the federal government reviews bridge projects for possible historical significance – one long-advocated by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) – could save taxpayers an estimated $78 million and reduce wait times for repair projects on more than 196,000 U.S. bridges.

A November 16 decision by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) will allow the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to streamline the historic preservation process for concrete and steel bridges built after 1945 by allowing the projects to go through the regulatory review process as a group, rather than individually.

In an October 1 letter supporting the change, ARTBA noted that the approach is similar to how the agency dealt with historic preservation issues impacting rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Interstate Highway System (IHS) under the prior surface transportation reauthorization law.  At that time, ARTBA similarly supported exempting large portions of the IHS from historic preservation regulations by identifying areas with historic value beforehand.

ARTBA said the new review process “recognizes while there will certainly be instances where active steps to preserve historical portions of the bridges will be necessary, the majority of bridge improvements in this class will not affect anything of historical significance.”

The full text of ARTBA’s comments supporting the new rule can be found in the “regulatory affairs” section of www.artba.org.

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Established in 1902, ARTBA is the transportation construction industry’s “consensus voice” in the Nation’s Capital.