Construction News Tracker Video: Detroit Bankruptcy and Construction Concerns

Builder confidence on the upswing...

Detroit bankruptcy raising contractor questions...

Texas tries to curb worker payroll fraud...

And VA hospital construction work in turmoil...

That and more on Construction News Tracker brought to you by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.

A six point rise in the Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index just out indicates the biggest increase in seven years and the third month in a row with a bright outlook. But that doesn't necessarily mean we're totally out of the recession woods, as a hit from federal housing support or higher interest rates could result in unwanted downward pressure.

Question marks surround the city of Detroit bankruptcy filing as contractors voice their concern over some key projects underway. The city's downtown development district has two big construction sites - a $137 million streetcar line and a $650 million Red Wings arena district. Officials claim the DDA is a separate entity from city government though it is being funded by $284 million in property taxes the city apparently doesn't have.

Texas will impose a new law January 1 intended to curb payroll fraud and wrongly classifying workers as independent contractors. Lawmakers say there's a small segment of contractors that try to skirt tax bills and other regulations. The Lone Star state claims it lost $54 million in unemployment insurance tax alone in 2012.

One of the nation's largest contractors Kiewit-Turner wants to abandon a Veterans Affairs hospital site near Denver. In a complaint filed with the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals the company says the V A is unable to submit building plans within the original design budget and is now some $200 million over. The situation appears to be a mirror of other contract boondoggles when one looks at the numbers gleaned from GAO accounting audits of the federal agency.

  • Las Vegas VA…$260 Million over budget….(April 2013)
  • Orlando VA…$362 Million over budget….(April 2013)
  • New Orleans VA..$370 Million over budget…(April 2013)
  • Denver (Aurora) VA..$400 Million over budget….(July 23, 2013)
  • Total $1.392 billion over budget

Congressional committees looking into the cost overruns are trying to come to grips with the problems, which have led to new hospital opening delays of as much as a year.

The CNH/Fiat merger is complete. The new name will be CNH Industrial N.V. Fiat had owned 87 percent of CNH, now tied together with its Case and New Holland brands and Case IH ag equipment, it will be the third largest capital goods group in the world.

After working 25 years as a welder one guy has taken his hobby for photography to new heights. Joe Bloom has taken his camera to the worksite of new eastern span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. It's the largest self-anchored suspension bridge in the world. Designed to last 150 years, the span has giant shock absorbing fuses built into it to withstand an earthquake. It took Joe months to get all the approvals required from him to lug a camera along, and at age 72 it's not an easy feat.

Whenever it's finished, the Bay Bridge could surpass $12 billion in cost.

Wrapping up this edition, in theory there is no difference between theory and practice. However, in practice, there is.

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