By |  December 2, 2013

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) is forecasting that the overall U.S. transportation infrastructure construction market will grow 5 percent from $129 billion this year to $135.8 billion in 2014.

Alison Premo Black, ARTBA’s chief economist, said the market would be led by expected double-digit growth in airport runway and terminal work, a 6 percent increase in bridge and tunnel construction, and five percent, or better, growth in total investment in waterways and ports, and heavy and light rail.

Uncertainty about the level of federal support for state highway programs after next September, however, will continue to depress the road pavement market next year, according to ARTBA.

Black forecasts the pavement market will grow to $54.4 billion in 2014, up 2.6 percent nationally. This includes $42.7 billion in public and private investment in highways, roads and streets, and $11.6 billion in largely private investments in parking lots, driveways and related structures. The market, however, will be uneven nationwide, she says. ARTBA forecasts paving work to be up in 19 states, down in 20, and largely flat in the remaining 11.

“Over the past 10 years, on average nationally, federal funding has provided 52 percent of the money invested by state transportation departments in road and bridge capital improvement projects,” Black says in a press release. “The federal share ranges from 35 percent in New Jersey to over 70 percent in 11 states.

“Absent congressional action to improve the revenue stream into the federal Highway Trust Fund before next October, federal support for state programs faces a potential $40 billion cut in fiscal year 2015,” she adds. “That uncertainty is already putting a damper on state project lettings. Congress needs to act.

“If the federal program can be at least stabilized, the longer-term outlook for pavements could be much more positive,” Black continues. “Bipartisan political support for significantly increased transportation investment has been seen in a number of bell-weather states this year, including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and Massachusetts. Wyoming and Vermont passed gas tax increases for expanded investment. Eighty-five percent of the 2014 transportation investment ballot initiatives passed. And the public-private investment market is picking up with the expansion of the federal loan guarantee program.”

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