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Andrew T. Gillies is Director of Communications at the Center for Audit Quality, an affiliate of the American Institute of CPAs, in Washington, DC. Based in Washington since 2002, he has also worked in editorial and communications roles at the Investment Company Institute, the World Bank, Forbes, and Vault.com. His policy-themed writing has focused on aerospace and defense, energy and environment, transportation, and financial services.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Concrete Proposals

WASHINGTON, D.C. - "We have a very, very underfunded and seriously challenged transportation system in severe crisis."

So says Peter Ruane, chief executive of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), as he unveils a 70-page plan for updating legislation on federal surface transportation spending. The law--called the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)--passed in 2005 with a $287 billion price tag. It's set to expire two years hence.

Yes, 2009 is a way off, and it isn't a drop-dead date. The SAFETEA law didn’t get signed until two years after its predecessor's expiration.

Still, shareholders in companies like Caterpillar (nyse: CAT - news - people ), Deere & Company (nyse: DE - news - people ), and Vulcan Materials (nyse: VMC - news - people ) should watch the road building industry's Washington standard bearer in the off-season: The federal government finances nearly half the country's highway and bridge building.

Full story at Forbes.com