The rising cost of steel and other construction materials has been voted the top construction story of 2004 in an annual survey conducted by the Construction Writers Association (CWA).

The seemingly insatiable demand for both new and scrap steel, driven in large part by China's red-hot construction market, has produced some of the sharpest price increases since the 1970s. Coupled with the increases were spot shortages.

Finishing a close second in the CWA survey was 2003's top vote getter - Congress' failure to enact a successor to the Transportation Enhancement Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).

Rounding out the top five stories in the CWA survey were the quadruple dose of hurricanes that battered Florida and other Southeastern states during the summer of 2004, continued strength of the residential construction market, and the looming threat of labor shortages for U.S. construction projects.

Founded in 1958, the Construction Writers Association is the nation's leading professional organization for construction industry journalists and communicators. Visit CWA's Web site: