The states of Wisconsin and Minnesota are currently facing a messy situation due to a shortage of cement. Building projects all over both states are moving at a snail’s pace (some even coming to a complete halt). The problems began with the longer, wetter than usual spring, which impacted local concrete operations. Concrete production, which usually runs about six months long, was pushed back and crammed into only four months. Since cement is a necessary component for making concrete, this led to an increased usage of cement in an accelerated time period. Cement transportation operations were not able to keep up with the unexpected demand.
Finding reliable, affordable cement transportation is a challenge. Ships have limits on how much cement they can carry, and barges traveling up the Mississippi River are getting caught up in various dredging projects. Rail transport has become extremely expensive, because of fracking in the region, and it is difficult to find available rail cars – if found, then they come at a premium.
The negative effects of the cement shortage are widespread. Road construction projects with deadlines are being given top priority, but many smaller scale projects are being put on hold, which is leaving workers without work. Crews that would be working every day are being told to stay home, and small businesses that require cement for projects are losing customers.
Although the current shortage is having a negative impact on workers, businesses, and customers, it is expected to become manageable very soon. Cold winter weather will put a stop to many construction projects, and cement will continue to be shipped to the areas so the supply will build up during these months. When road projects are completed, small business owners are hoping that the cement supply will be passed on to them, allowing them to complete their own projects.
(CCC Transportation is happy to announce that the Southeast has not experienced the effects of this shortage, and that the construction industry is booming in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.)