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What to watch in the weeks to come

By |  January 20, 2021
Photo:

Yanik

There’s light at the end of this tunnel, and it is nearing.

Vaccines are finally being administered, and many of us are starting to visualize how we might celebrate the return of the world as we knew it when it finally shows itself again in the months to come.

For me, a return to normalcy will undoubtedly include a ballgame under the sun and a hot dog topped with Stadium mustard. To boot, I was hoping to be shading myself with a Cleveland Browns Super Bowl LV Champions hat, but, as Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs reminded me, the return we’re all targeting is to normalcy and not some land of hopes and dreams. At least not this year, Browns fans.

The road ahead

As it stands, the beat goes on here at Pit & Quarry, where we’ll be keeping an eye on a couple of key developments early in 2021, including:

Photo: P&Q Staff

A multi-year infrastructure bill stands a greater chance of passage now that the Biden administration is in place and the president has a Democratic Congress at his disposal. Photo: P&Q Staff

 The aggregate industry’s recovery. Aggregate producers got some good news at the end of 2020 when it was revealed that $10 billion of the $900 billion in the coronavirus relief package will be directed to state Departments of Transportation (DOTs). That injection, while welcomed, won’t make every state DOT whole. It is something, though.

With that, how might this year take shape for producers? With the pandemic still raging across the U.S. and many state DOTs in disarray, we’re hearing quite a bit from industry stakeholders that 2021 is starting slowly – and that it will continue that way for some time. Fortunately, producers and suppliers are optimistic that business will pick up in the second half of the year and as 2022 begins to near.

• The prospects of an infrastructure bill. A major bill was never going to emerge from the last Congress. Not with the divide between President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California).

The opportunity this time feels much more real. Although Democrats took over the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris to cast tiebreaking votes when necessary, the margins in the Senate and the House are both so thin that Democrats and Republicans should be able to find something they can work on. Yet another round of COVID relief is probably first on the docket for the Biden administration, but a compromise on infrastructure might be next.

If an infrastructure bill does come to fruition, it will be interesting to see how much it mirrors the $2 trillion climate proposal President Biden put forth on the campaign trail. If the bill resembles that package, then roads, bridges and highways probably won’t be the primary beneficiary of any funding. But a bill in the trillion-dollar range should at least allocate hundreds of billions of dollars for surface transportation projects.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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