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Martin Marietta CEO issues warning about highway funding

Mar, 20 2012


(Raleigh) -- The nation’s roads and other transportation infrastructure are at risk of falling into disrepair, warns the CEO of the country’s second-largest aggregates producer.

Ward Nye, who leads Raleigh-based Martin Marietta Materials Inc., told attendees at Triangle Business Journal’s March 16 Power Breakfast event that the federal government has continued to authorize highway spending in short increments and that the current authorization expires on March 30.

The Senate last week approved a two-year bill Nye said would maintain highway spending roughly at its current level.

“At least it’s not a 30 percent cut” as stipulated in a House bill last year, Nye said.

The federal government spends about $40 billion a year on physical infrastructure, only half of what’s needed to maintain its condition, Nye said, citing research by an industry group. Nye blamed the alleged underfunding on Congress’ failure to raise the federal gasoline tax since setting it at 18.4 cents in 1993, despite rising construction and materials costs.

“Gas tax conversations are tough conversations to have,” Nye acknowledged.

“I think they” – members of Congress – “need to stop hearing from the likes of me,” Nye said. “I think it’s easy for me or others who are in the space ... to go to them regularly and talk to them. I think what they really need to hear is from the folks who are using the roads every day.”

While at the event, Nye also took the opportunity to speak about his recent time on the stand in a lawsuit related to MLM’s $5.7 billion hostile takeover attempt of Birmingham, Ala.-based Vulcan Materials.

By: Chris Bagley
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