Industry News

Make Plans for Cement, Concrete Industry Fly-In

ACPA is encouraging members and affiliates to participate in the 2020 Cement & Concrete Fly-In, which will be held in Washington, DC, on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 19th and 20th.

Registered guess will have the opportunity for briefings and discussions, followed by group meetings with Congressional offices and top Federal officials to discuss issues impacting the industry. The cement and concrete industry collectively has 600,000 employees and contributes more than $100 billion each year to our nation’s economy.

Please make plans today! Click here to register at the Conrad Hotel in Washington, DC, and here to register for the fly-in. A detailed agenda will be posted in ACPA TODAY as soon as it is available. 

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Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

Pennsylvania Concrete Conference Seen as Great Success

With an information-packed agenda, the 22nd annual Pennsylvania Concrete Conference drew 175 attendees and featured a wealth of business and technical information for participants. 

“We had 50 participants from PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike,” says ACPA/PA President John Becker, adding, “We were very happy to welcome first-time attendees, who comprised about 40 percent of our overall participation.”

John adds that the first-timers included experienced representatives from companies that have not previously been engaged with the concrete pavement community along with younger professionals who are the future of our industry. “We also had six posters presented from doctoral candidates and recent graduates from four universities on research that could reshape the state of the practice in concrete technologies.”

A diverse group of attendees representing 72 different organizations, including eleven contractor firms attended. “The conference helped us reach new and prospective members,” John says, adding, “In the past six weeks alone, we’ve added six new members, and today, we added a seventh!”

With a good mix of agencies, industry and academia, the conference started with keynote remarks from Yassmin Gramian, P.E., Acting Secretary of Transportation, PennDOT, who provided an overview of the mission and vision of PennDOT. This presentation was followed by a talk on the PennDOT 2020 construction program and on concrete pavement initiatives by T. Jay Cunningham, P.E., PennDOT’s Bureau of Maintenance and Operations. Tom Harman, FHWA, made a presentation about innovation. Craig Shuey, COO of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, presented on automated speed enforcement.

Becker says Leif Wathne of ACPA delivered an excellent historical overview of pavement type selection, which set the stage for a talk by Randolph Kirchain, Ph.D., of MIT; he spoke about the impact of competition on pavement economics.

Wathne also participated in the Chapter’s board meeting, held the day before the conference. At the boarad meeting, lively discussions centered on marketing, promotion, technical matters and legislative outreach efforts. 

At the conference, technical presentations covered materials, best practices, case histories, research and more. Rich Jucha from ACPA/PA presented on a contractor/aggregate producer-led skid study and Heather Steffek from the New York State Chapter presented on full-depth reclamation with portland cement stabilization. Preliminary findings from work being done by IRISE, a research consortium led by the University of Pittsburgh, were also presented. 

John says the allied promotional partners from the concrete precast, pipe and ready-mixed industries once again participated in and made presentations at the conference. “Casting this wider net serves the members of ACPA/PA, who are able to dialogue with a number of allied suppliers, producers, and others who are drawn to this more diverse program,” John says. 

As a follow-up to this conference, three Regional Concrete Pavement Forums will be held in April. Discussions will take place with greater participation from PennDOT Districts, contractors, and ACPA/PA staff on addressing and overcoming barriers to the use of concrete pavement. Discussions will also take place with designers on cost-effective concrete pavement innovations discussed at the conference. 

Arkansas Appoints DOT Director

The Arkansas Highway Commission has named Lorie Harris Tudor, P.E. as Director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT). Tudor will succeed Scott Bennett, who announced he will retire on March 20, according to an ARDOT press release. 

Tudor began her 36-year career with what was then the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department in 1981 as a clerk typist. She left the Department in 1995 to return to college, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Memphis.

She returned in 1998 as a Civil Engineer I in the Planning Branch. She held various titles in Planning, Research, and Program Management, becoming Assistant Chief Engineer for Planning in 2011. In December 2014, she was named Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer. 

Tudor becomes ARDOT’s first female Director, and the fifth person to serve in that role in the Department’s last 47 years. Previous ARDOT Directors are Henry Gray (15 years), Maurice Smith (6 years), Dan Flowers (17 years) and Scott Bennett (9 years).

Engineering Firm: Gas Tax is Less Than You Think

On average, American drivers pay about $25 per month or $274.69 annually in federal and state gas taxes, says infrastructure solutions firm HNTB. The figures are based on numbers from ARTBA, FHWA and the EPA. 

Compared to other critical public services, the cost for their transportation systems lags far behind, they say. For example, annual average electric bills for U.S. homes totaled about $1,340 in 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Administration. 

Annual broadband internet service totaled $794.04 that year, according to information from FORBES magazine. The firm also says a family of four paid an average annual water bill of $844.68 in 2019, based on information from Statista. The company also reports Americans’ individual mobile phone bills average nearly $100 a month or $1,200 per year, according to bill pay service Doxo.

Click here to read more. Click here to view and download the full infographic to share with your colleagues or by social media.

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Illustration: Detail of infographic shows average gas taxes paid annual, compared with costs of electricity, mobile phones, water, and broadband internet service.  (Credit:  HNTB Corporation)

PCA: Modest Cement Consumption Ahead

PCA Market Intelligence expects cement consumption will grow by 1.7 percent in 2020, according to PCA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Ed Sullivan, who predicts cement consumption will be at moderate growth levels through this year and into 2022. 

The potential for stronger than expected construction in residential construction could add one full percentage point to this outlook, Sullivan says.

“The economy rests on two pillars, consumer spending and labor markets,” according to Sullivan during PCA’s press briefing at World of Concrete. “As long as the economy continues to grow and create jobs, the economy will remain on solid ground and continue to support cyclical portions of the cement market. But the economic recovery is aging and losing its zip. Economic growth will gradually slow, along with construction activity and cement consumption growth rates.”

The aging of the recovery makes the economy, and cement consumption, more vulnerable to potential disruptions. Economic challenges include slower global economic growth, declining consumer sentiment, trade issues, and the threat of coronavirus fully hitting the United States, he says.  

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Photo depicts sustainable building design & construction. Photo source: PCA website.

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