Highway market expected to grow in 2004

News ARTBA December 17, 2003
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Spurred by continued increases in federal funding and renewed economic growth, the U

Spurred by continued increases in federal funding and renewed economic growth, the U.S. highway construction market should grow 4.2% in 2004, the chief economist for the Washington, D.C.-based American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) said.

Dr. William Buechner, ARTBA vice president of economics and research, said the expected congressional approval of $33.6 billion in federal highway investment for FY 2004–an increase of $2 billion over FY 2003 levels–will drive the market growth.

The value of construction work performed on highway and bridge projects is projected to be a record $62.5 billion in FY 2004, up from $60 billion in FY 2003, according to ARTBA.

Buechner, a Harvard-trained economist who served the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress for nearly two decades before joining ARTBA, said recent strengthening of the American economy also would be a contributing factor to the growth.

The nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased at an 8.2% annual rate in the third quarter of 2003. Economists expect the economy to grow 3.9% in 2004 and to move above 4% per year the following year. Renewed economic growth should ease the dire state and local budget situation and permit renewed growth of investment in highways and bridges, Buechner said.

The ARTBA forecast also looks at the growth of the highway construction market over the next six years under several legislative proposals being considered as part of the reauthorization of the nation's highway and transit law known as TEA-21, which Congress is expected to debate in early 2004.

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