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Hudson praises work of Vulcan Materials in Concord

CONCORD, N.C. -- Eighth U.S. District Congressman Richard Hudson visited Vulcan Materials Co. in Concord Thursday as part of a district tour and said he was “impressed” by the granite mine and rock crushing operation.
“What they do enables us to continue to grow and create jobs in our community,” he said while standing on the rim of a 40-acre wide, 285 foot deep granite quarry, the source of Vulcan’s raw materials in the Concord area.
Vulcan employs 32 people at its Concord facility, who work in various capacities extracting rock and processing it.
Drills bore holes into the growing pit, which workers then blast to expose new rock samples. Huge dump trucks and front-end loaders with wheels as large as eight feet in diameter carry the rock to primary crushers, which break it into smaller pieces. Depending on the product being produced, the rocks can be crushed into smaller and smaller pieces all the way down to fine particulate matter.
That product, manufactured sand, is a primary ingredient in concrete, the ubiquitous building material necessary for everything from roads and bridges to residential and commercial buildings.
Charlotte-based Blythe Construction, which was picked to build the next leg of the I-85 widening project from Exit 58 into Rowan County, has a mobile concrete adjacent to the rock crushers where the company mixes the concrete it’s using on the I-485 loop project and the coming leg of the I-85 project.
Vulcan Sales and Community Affairs representative Denise Hallet said Vulcan’s proximity to I-85, combined with the federal dollars being spent to widen the interstate, are a boon to the company and the community.
“The reason we exist primarily is because we’ve got a healthy transportation program, and we’ve got an economic development community that drives the market,” Hallett said. “When you’ve got a good, healthy economy, that directly benefits us.”
Projects like the I-85 widening receive federal funding through the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which has had a rocky year. Hudson joined the majority of the House in July to pass what has been described as a stop-gap measure to fix the nearly-depleted fund.
“It’s tough, because we’ve got a lot of needs out there,” Hudson said. “That money comes from the federal gas tax, and as vehicles become more efficient, there’s less gas tax being paid,” as well as less driving being done.”
Hudson said more money needs to be put in pavement, dismissing projects like bike paths and light rail transit.
“Finishing this I-485 loop and widening I-85 is going to do more to alleviate congestion than trying to fund light rail or something else,” he said, adding interstates and bridges fall within the federal government’s role.
Hallet noted Vulcan benefits from road construction, but so does everyone else.
“It’s really good for the community, it’s good for the state, it’s good for the nation to have a robust transportation improvement program,” she said. “When you do that, businesses are going to be able to thrive. They’ll want to come here. They’ll have jobs here, and that just trickles all the way down.”
Concord Independent Tribune, By: Tim Reaves
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