Bridge construction for various state departments of transportation has been a strong contributing factor towards increasing the utilization of the Company's construction equipment. The Company continues to see a steady amount of bridge building opportunities. While bid margins on these types of projects are still lower than historical norms, the Company has not seen any further deterioration or any increase in irrational bidders.
The latest Infrastructure Report Card released by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) last month assigns a grade of "C+" to the overall conditions of the nation's bridges. The report card identifies 25% of all bridges in the country as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The Company believes the current state of bridges in the country will provide steady bid opportunities over both the medium and long term.
Local & Private UpdateWith the average size of vessels calling US ports increasing, so is the need to undertake capital investment by local port authorities to accommodate these larger ships. The trend of larger vessels requiring deeper drafts and larger terminals will only continue to grow as we approach the completion of the Panama Canal Expansion in 2015. The Company sees these trends as positive long term drivers over the next decade with funding challenges to overcome in the near term before many of these projects materialize into bid opportunities. The Company also expects the recent increase in other private sector bid opportunities to continue for the foreseeable future. The development of domestic energy in our market areas and the need to transport, refine, and store these commodities has provided a multitude of opportunities for the Company to bring its entire suite of services to bear in constructing the waterside portion of this infrastructure. The Company also expects to see opportunity in the long term related to the eventual large scale export of these commodities.