Road Builders project modest transportation market gains in new year

Source: American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), Washington, D.C. 

ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black projects a 4.2 percent year-over-year increase for the 2019 transportation infrastructure market, reflecting higher federal, state and local government investment across all modes. Total U.S. transportation construction and related-market activity is projected to eclipse $278 billion in 2019, up from this year’s trending tally of nearly $267 billion.

The 2018 transportation construction market is on pace to finish up 4.2 percent from last year, driven largely by gains in airport terminal and runway construction, which increased by $5.8 billion, or 33 percent. Spending on public highway and street construction this year has climbed $2.7 billion. Among wild cards in the 2019 forecast, Dr. Black cites the scheduled 2020 reauthorization of the FAST Act surface transportation funding program and ability of Congress to find additional revenues supporting the Highway Trust Fund. “If states start delaying transportation improvement projects in response to uncertainty over the future of the federal program, it will temper 2019 market growth,” she affirms.

Although the overall transportation infrastructure market will see growth next year, she adds, the situation will likely vary significantly by state and region. Highway construction market activity is expected to increase in about half of the states and Washington, D.C.; remain steady in five states; and, slow in the remaining 20 states. Other market risks include uncertainty over material prices, increased labor costs and potential labor shortages in regional markets.


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