Public sector construction improved for the first time since 2009, but only by 1.8%, according to Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC. Highway and street construction grew 4%, funded in part by MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, which provided $105 billion through 2014.
This summer, Congress passed an $8 billion extension of highway funding through October, when the House and Senate will continue negotiating a long-term bill. President Obama signed the extension to avoid a lapse in funding but commented, “We can’t keep on funding transportation by the seat of our pants.”
PCA chief economist Ed Sullivan says improving state fiscal conditions boosted public sector growth in 2014. “We’re seeing a re-emphasis on areas that were neglected during the downturn, which means infrastructure — and that’s where cement and concrete come into play.” Concrete, asphalt, and aggregate producer Colas says its North American roadbuilding revenue improved by 4% last year: “Work-on-hand improved at the end of the year, thanks to the fact that certain states have decided to bear the cost of infrastructure funds.”
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) was enacted in June 2014, allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build and upgrade infrastructure along rivers, canals, ports, and inland waterways. The law also authorizes public-private funding and financing for large projects over $20 million. Simonson says public funding for transportation infrastructure, including ports, transit, and airports increased 4.9% by year-end.