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Highway funding faces perfect storm

The slight, gradual rebound in projected 2011-12 concrete demand has given way to a nearly flat outlook for the period, after a downgraded forecast Portland Cement Association released late last month. Chief Economist Ed Sullivan attributed highway-funding legislation uncertainty in calling for a 0.6 percent 2011-12 cement consumption increase over a 2009-10 trough. A previous forecast that might have seen cement shipments this year and next combine for an 8–10 percent gain factored a 20 percent increase in federal highway funding, which PCA now sees will continue at its present level.

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Rogue union locals do little to sustain cast-in-place practice

Quality control in a plant environment and absence of weather-induced pour delays lead advantages that precast concrete interests cite when comparing their methods to cast-in-place alternatives. A few United Brotherhood of Carpenters locals, embittered by failure to organize concrete subcontractor crews, might codify another advantage in precasters’ pitch: Lower probability of general contractor or project owner harassment.

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