Wednesday, July 15, 2009


(from the February 2009 Editor's Note of AsphaltPro Magazine)

We’ll have in-depth coverage of the recent National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) 54th annual meeting in our March issue, when there’s time to compile all the information for you properly, but I have to say that I came away from the conference sensing an air of anticipation in the asphalt industry. We’re waiting to see what happens with oil prices. We’re waiting to see what happens with transportation funding. We’re waiting to see which equipment manufacturers cut how many jobs. We’re waiting to see if the competitor down the street brings back all his crews or if he works short-handed this paving season.

This waiting around can be stressful if you’re a Type A personality like me.

What do all of the Type As and other interested business persons do while we wait? There’s an excellent opportunity to influence our destiny with legislation. By the time this issue hits the streets, the economic stimulus package should have passed, promising just about $30 billion for roads and bridges. I’ll provide you a breakdown of how that money gets divided among the states once it’s a sure thing—no point in counting the chickens before they’ve hatched.

We also have the 2009 Transportation Appropriations Bill to inject some funds into our coffers and the reauthorization act to get Congress to approve. It’s the reauthorization act that professionals all over the industry are focused on. This is the one we should be talking to our legislators about.

From the very nature of the word “reauthorization” you can guess that, as an industry, we’re asking Congress to give us what we’ve had in the past. But we need, and are asking for, additional funding. That’s going to take effort because no one really relishes the idea of raising the gas tax. Call it a user fee if you like; we’re still asking a legislative body to make people pay more at the pump. Of course, we’re asking for this money to protect those people—to give them safer roadways and economic growth. And that’s a message we need to send to our legislators. By investing in the highway industry, a Congressman invests in his or her constituents’ livelihoods. It’s not a stretch to figure out, but it will take a concerted effort to convince folks when part of the convincing involves money.

Luckily, raising money isn’t unprecedented right now. Look at the example Tulsa has set for us on page 9.

Former Speaker of the House Trent Lott spoke to the attendees at the NAPA meeting last month and told us that the public should participate in transportation funding because it’s in the public’s interest to have safe roads. That sounds like another excellent point to put before our legislators.

But who’s bringing these talking points to the representatives that cast the votes for reauthorization? Are you relying on the staff at NAPA to do all the work? Trust me, Jay Hansen is working hard, but he’s just one person. As Lott told the packed room in San Diego, “This is the time to step up.” Every member of the industry needs to be in communication with the members of Congress to let them know that we’re ready and able to help the economy recover. Funnel the money into the roads and bridges of this nation and we’ll do the rest. We’ll employ workers who buy goods. We’ll fix roads that keep motorists safe. We’ll build corridors that move products from point A to point B. We’ll bring industry to regions that were formerly without economic growth.

I encourage you to get on the phone and tell your legislators that the asphalt industry is, as Lott said, “an important part of our recovery.” If you don’t know how to reach your specific representatives, visit for a listing.

It’s going to take all of us to help the nation recover once funding funnels to project level. But first it’s going to take all of us to get that funding in place. I encourage you to do your part in controlling your destiny.

Stay Safe,
Sandy Lender, Editor (sandy at theasphaltpro dot com)

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