Construction News Tracker Video: Uncertain Future for Highway Construction Business

The future of U.S. highway construction appears dim...

New Minnesota Vikings stadium becomes reality...

Massive Texas chemical plant to create jobs...

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

The future of the American highway construction business appears grim because of diminished spending on infrastructure projects nationwide. Some noted highway contractors are leaving the field for greener pastures mainly because of a drop in spending leading to less profit. A similar scenario is playing out in the jobs market. AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson says despite the fact construction unemployment has dipped to nine percent following the recession, it will be next to impossible for the industry to return to former levels as thousands have retired, returned to school to develop skills in other fields or just plain dropped out.

The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), however, sees five percent growth in construction spending next year to nearly $136 billion. Chief Economist Dr. Allison Premo Black believes airport projects will post double digit expansion; bridge and tunnel expansion five percent; while waterway and rail construction will grow by five percent as well.

ARTBA 2013 Transportation Construction Market Forecast Predicts Modest Growth

The American Highway Users Alliance and Volvo Summit last month brought key lawmakers to voice their concerns about the future. House Transportation Committe Chair Bill Schuster indicated it'll be tricky to get a funding bill passed.

From all appearances, neither political party is keen to begin putting out numbers for new highway funds, which would leave it up to the White House to make a move.

An assortment of construction industry associations have projects underway to raise public awareness. Among them is the Case Road Tour which brings Case dealers together with community leaders and citizens in an effort to spur infrastructure growth and spending. Two such events are right around the corner: December 12 at Auburn, Va., and December 17 at Sacremento. You can get all the details at direstates.com.

As of this moment, construction is underway on a new $975 million stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Ground breaking was earlier this week. Mortenson Construction is the contractor with the city of Minneapolis and the state splitting roughly 50 percent of the cost. The Metrodome replacement will have 1.7 million square feet and be completed in 2016.

Expect an influx of new jobs in Southeast Texas if the Dutch builder follows through with plans just revealed. Their methanol plant at Beaumont will product 5,000 metric tons per day. The billion dollar plus project is expected to begin construction next summer and create upwards of 3,000 construction jobs.

Do you know what it costs to live in your community? Do you hope to move to a different area and want to know what it will cost you? Two federal agencies have teamed up to provide Americans with this important information. Economists believe that upwards of 50 percent of a family budget goes to housing and transportation. If you're the moving type, HUD and DOT want you to have the answer. Using the Internet, go to Location Affordability Portal, enter the address of your potential new home community, and the site will calculate your housing and transportation costs.

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