Federal Highway Bill Good News for CMI

Article excerpt

New federal highway legislation should have a favorable impact on mega-road equipment manufacturer CMI Corp. of Oklahoma City, said Jim Rodriguez, director of corporate communications.

Rodriguez has been closely monitoring the different versions of the highway bills _ which are enacted about every five years _ as they make their way through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

"The proposals that are on the table in Washington range from $88 billion to $119 billion for the five-year period beginning Oct. 1, compared to $64 billion for the previous five-year period," he said.

"CMI manufactures a broad line of road construction and repair machines, and federal spending is the most significant single influence on our market." The emphasis of the current legislation is on rehabilitation and rescue of the existing highway system, Rodriguez said.

"CMI has focused its products on this market area for the past 10 years," he said. "We are the leading supplier of road rebuilding equipment, and we will have an opportunity to expand our operation and our sales when this bill is passed." Besides the fact that it would bring increased business to CMI, Rodriguez said the company would like to see the highest funding level possible because of the amount of neglect of the federal highway system over the past 10 years.

"The United States used to spend from 4 to 5 percent of its gross national product on infrastructure spending, and even for the past 20 years we've spent less than 3 percent, and the bill's coming due," he said.

"The system is becoming deteriorated to the point that a major rescue program is necessary." Monty Murphy, deputy director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, said federal lawmakers are considering eliminating some of the categorical restrictions that currently exist in the highway program.

"Basically, the program would be a system of national significance, which would include the interstate system and some of the primary highway system," he said. "Then, there would be some type of a rural and urban system, which would provide funds for construction of secondary roads and city streets." Murphy expects the formulas for appropriation of funds back to the states will be completely different from the current method.

"Currently, there are a number of categories _ maybe 20 categories _ of federal funds, and you basically have to spend those funds on those specific types of highway projects," Murphy said. …