Officials: Cement shortage delaying some construction projects in Michigan

IndustriesAssociated Press

A cement shortage has delayed some construction projects in Michigan, but roadwork that's wrapping up for the year hasn't been affected, officials said.

Last winter's freeze of the Great Lakes delayed the start of shipping in the springtime and other transportation issues have affected cement delivery, the Detroit Free Press reported (http://on.freep.com/1ASm3gU ).

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Daniel DeGraaf, who heads the Michigan Concrete Association, said that if a homeowner wanted to get a driveway poured, for example, that person might be told to wait a month or longer. He said companies have been trying to balance needs of different projects.

"There's a myriad of priorities, and of course, every customer's project is most important to every customer," DeGraaf said.

Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Cranson said the cement shortage hasn't been having an effect on the agency's projects.

But in the Detroit suburb of Huntington Woods, a new playground at Burton Elementary School was delayed due to the shortage. Principal Maribeth Krehbiel expects that the $460,000 playground will open around the end of the month, a few weeks later than hoped.

"I would love to have had it (done earlier), but what are you going to do if you don't have the product available?" Krehbiel said.

Deliveries to other Great Lakes states also have been affected. Lafarge North America, a major cement producer in Michigan with a plant in Alpena, said in a statement that the harsh winter weather in early 2014 led to a drop in construction activities and the demand for cement.

When the weather warmed, Lafarge said, construction and demand picked up.

"Transportation bottlenecks resulted in cement sufficient to meet pent-up customer demand was not able to make it to the Great Lakes region in what was an usually heightened and compressed seasonal demand period," the company said. Still, it said, "conditions are now returning to normal."

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com