Reading their lips

By |  December 4, 2014

As we detail in our State of the Industry report beginning on page 14, things are looking up for the aggregates industry heading into next year. Construction starts are on the rise, and aggregate production numbers are up, as well. But there continues to be one issue preventing a faster, stronger recovery for this industry – the lack of a multi-year highway bill.

In recent years, the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association has made the lobbying of a highway bill its number-one priority, and that is certainly the case with the new NSSGA administration. But the association is up against a much more powerful lobbying group – the general public. And the public does not want to see an increase in the gas tax.

In his Innovation NewsBriefs e-newsletter, Ken Orski says the November mid-term elections have put an end to any hope of passing a long-term bill during the congressional lame-duck session. “With the November elections heralding a fiscally more conservative political climate, and with Congress preoccupied with a whole lot of unfinished business,” Orski says, “passing a massive multi-year, multi-billion-dollar funding bill for transportation during the lame-duck session will be the last thing on the lawmakers’ minds.”

And, Orski adds, the only feasible way to raise the kind of money needed for a long-term highway bill would be with a very substantial increase of the federal gas tax. A Gallup poll in 2013 and an Associated Press poll in 2014 both found the American public is overwhelmingly against that idea, even if it went toward infrastructure improvements.

Read what our roundtable panel had to say about the prospects for a highway bill, as well as other topics, beginning on page 30.

New team member

In other news, we’re happy to announce that FMI’s George Reddin has come on board as an economics columnist, joining Mike Heenan and David Chereb on the Pit & Quarry team. You’ll continue to find David’s Aggregates Forecast column in our monthly Industry Snapshot section, while George will contribute an in-depth quarterly economics report. Look for the first of George’s reports in our February issue.

About the Author:

Darren Constantino is an editor of Pit & Quarry magazine. He can be reached at

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