Cement shortage driving up construction costsMILWAUKEE – A shortage of cement in the South is driving up concrete prices in Wisconsin, building contractors say.The shortage has halted some construction projects in Florida and Texas this spring. That hasn’t happened in Wisconsin, but contractors say prices have risen several times since February and are expected rise again for a total increase of about 12 percent this year.The shortage and increased prices stem from a limited amount of Portland cement, a powder used to make concrete. Ships loaded with Portland cement made overseas have delivered the product to China and other developing nations rather than the United States.The U.S. imports about 22 percent of the cement it needs from Canada, China, Thailand and other countries.Because of its strong economy, China now consumes more cement than it produces.”A lot of imported cement that was taken for granted in the past is no longer available,” said David Lumsden, president of St. Mary’s Cement Inc., a Toronto company with a plant in Milwaukee.The shortage to the South is pushing its way north as construction activity picks up with the warmer weather.Concrete prices increased $3 per cubic yard in February and are expected to increase another $4 this month, said John Poblocki, president of Poblocki Paving Corp. in West Allis.
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