It’s been four years, but many in the concrete industry may be feeling the déjà vu of cautious optimism we sensed before the American Recovery and Reinvestment (Stimulus) Act promised funding for infrastructure projects in 2009. With recent talk in Washington, D.C. about a $50 billion Fix it First public works repair program and proposed $100 billion budget for infrastructure spending, it’s hard not to hope some of the talk will translate into actual orders for concrete.

However, we know this isn’t always the case. In hindsight, the Stimulus Act did not apply to a large portion of concrete infrastructure: precast bridge elements, sound walls, culverts, pipe, and pavement panels. As Chris Lechner, executive director of the Precast Concrete Manufacturers’ Association of Texas, points out, “Bridges are not exactly shovel-ready projects.” In our cover story, Lechner explains how Texas has become a hotbed of precast concrete infrastructure projects, despite a lack of federal funding.

In “Advances in Precast Paving,” David Merritt, P.E. of engineering firm Transtec Group gives an update on how far this technique has come since he originally wrote about it for TCP in 2007. “The Concrete Canal” showcases the world’s largest construction project — a concrete job of the magnitude we’d all like to see underway closer to home.

Whether the funding comes from the federal budget, municipal bonds, a National Infrastructure Bank, or public-private partnerships, one thing is certain. Concrete producers will be there to fill the orders when it’s time to get the shovels and mixing drums working again.

Building a stronger concrete community
At TCP, we’ve been improving our own infrastructure. Readers who follow us online have seen the revamped www.theconcreteproducer.com, with a user-friendly search function, breaking news, and quick access to industry association updates.

The TCP Update digital newsletter now publishes weekly, with a new precast edition and special product spotlight each month. We’re also working to bring our “small world” of concrete together in real time, via social media. Join us at The Concrete Producer Facebook page, or follow @TConcretePro on Twitter.

We look forward to seeing you there!