Photo by Tudor Van Hampton
Attendance at this year's World of Concrete is expected to reach 50,000, slightly higher than last year's 48,554.

The annual World of Concrete show opened its doors with moods and traffic slightly higher than last year.

"There is a tinge of optimism," said Ed Sullivan, chief economist for the Skokie, Ill.-based Portland Cement Association, on the first day of this year's show in Las Vegas. "Only recently have we seen the job market begin to tick up."

Vendors shared that optimism, though they admitted that much of the current spending is due to replacement, not new construction.

"People's equipment is just wearing out," said Steve Guillaume, vice president and general manager of Continental Mixers, adding that housing needs to rebound before concrete spending picks up from peak levels in 2007.

Pavement spending is likewise in need of a rebound, though few attendees believed that Congress would manage to pass a multiyear transportation bill in this election year.

"I think it will be fairly difficult," Guillaume said. "But you might see some sustaining spending, as a stopgap."

Held from Jan. 23 to Jan. 27 in Las Vegas, the show's turnout was expected to reach 50,000 attendees, slightly higher than last year.