ARTBA Estimates “Moderate” Transportation Market Growth in 2014

AASHTO Journal, 6 December 2013

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association last week released its forecast for the U.S. transportation market in 2014, which shows a 5 percent jump in transportation infrastructure construction.

ARTBA estimates that transportation infrastructure construction will grow from about $129 billion this year to roughly $135.8 billion in 2014. Much of that growth, ARTBA said, stems from a projected 6 percent increase in the construction of bridges and tunnels (from $28.5 billion in 2013 to a record $30.1 billion in 2014) and at least 5 percent growth in the investment in ports and waterways (expected to grow another $100 million to a total of $3 billion in 2014), heavy rail (to jump from $11.6 billion this year to $12.6 billion in 2014), and light rail (from $7.5 billion this year to $7.9 billion in 2014). The largest increase is expected in airport investment, which is expected to jump 17 percent between 2013 and 2014 to a total of $14.7 billion.

The implementation of the current surface transportation bill, MAP-21, is responsible for the growing transportation infrastructure construction numbers, states have also done more to increase their own investment when possible.

“Bipartisan political support for significantly increased transportation investment has been seen in a number of bell-weather states this year, including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Massachusetts,” said ARTBA Chief Economist Alison Premo Black in a statement. “Wyoming and Vermont passed gas tax increases for expanded investment. Eighty-five percent of the 2014 transportation investment ballot initiatives passed. And the public-private investment market is picking up with the expansion of the federal loan guarantee program.”

ARTBA officials say that while the growth will exist in 2014, the expiration of MAP-21 at the end of September 2014 causes uncertainty after that date unless additional action is taken.

“Absent congressional action to improve the revenue stream into the federal Highway Trust Fund before next October, federal support for state programs faces a potential $40 billion cut in fiscal year 2015,” Black said. “That uncertainty is already putting a damper on state project lettings. Congress needs to act.”


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