Cement shortage could get severe

Cement shortage could get severe
Published: 17 February 2005

There is a shortage of cement in Tucson and southern Arizona and it will likely become more acute this spring. So says David Bittel, plant manager at Arizona Portland Cement Co. in Rillito. Others, too, warn demand for cement and other building materials could outpace supply this year, driving construction prices higher. Bittel said Arizona Portland Cement has not accepted new customers of late and has rationed supplies. "All of our customers since the summer of last year have been on allocation," he said. "Winter is our slowest period and that is especially true this year because of all the rain. Our big season is April, May and June before the monsoons hit."

While a survey by the National Association of Home Builders indicates building supply shortages have eased in recent months, experts warn that construction materials will again be tight in 2005 as home builders post another strong year and nonresidential construction in the United States increases over last year. In a nationwide poll by the national association last month, those surveyed cited continued concerns about shortages of cement, wall board, plywood, roofing materials, lumber and steel framing.

The Portland Cement Association said cement supplies remain tight in 35 states, including Arizona. Roger Yohem, vice president of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, said that while there may be spot shortages of materials, problems have eased considerably since last summer.