State of the Union takeaways

By |  February 18, 2013

A comprehensive, well-funded, multi-year federal surface transportation program that gives aggregate producers the confidence to make long-term investments continues to elude the industry. But President Obama introduced an alternative surface transportation solution Tuesday night during his State of the Union address, proposing a “Fix-It-First” program that he says would put people back to work on the country’s tens of thousands of structurally deficient bridges.

In this proposal, Obama says taxpayers would not shoulder the entire burden. Instead, Obama seeks federal partnerships with private capital to fund improvements in U.S. infrastructure.

Obama did not provide any additional details on “Fix-It-First” during his State of the Union, but he did reference comments from Siemens USA CEO Eric Spiegel, who said that if the U.S. upgrades its infrastructure, more jobs will be created.

“Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire, a country with deteriorating roads and bridges or one with high-speed rail and Internet, high-tech schools, self-healing power grids,” Obama said Tuesday night.

Göran Lindgren, the head of Volvo Construction Equipment’s Americas business, is hopeful about the possibilities for surface transportation development following Obama’s State of the Union.

“While the president’s call for investment is a very encouraging development,” Lindgren says, “in order for this commitment to become reality the real test will be the legislative proposals – and cross-party support – it leads to in the coming month.

“It seems that political will is finally catching up with what the construction industry – and motorists – have known for years: that America’s highway system is seriously dilapidated and in dire need of repair and modernization.”

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