Construction News Tracker is presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.
The so called "Blacklisting Rule" by the U.S. Department of Labor is about to become a thing of the past. A joint congressional resolution of disapproval has been adopted by both houses in an effort to rescind the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act. It's just the latest in a host of regulations adopted by the Obama Administration to hit the skids in the Trump era. It required contractors bidding on federal work valued at over $500,000 to submit all records of labor or safety violations prior to approval.
The Congressional House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing February 1st and was told that continued delay in major improvements to the nation's travel modes will only result in much higher cost. It was the first hearing on the Trump Administration infrastructure investment plan. Chairman Bill Shuster told the hearing that optimism in infrastructure investment and fixing the highway trust funds has never been higher.
The Dodge Momentum Index rose 3.9% in January to 142.6 from a revised December mark of 137.3. Dodge believes the rise can be attributed to a 12.1% gain in the institutional sector. The commercial building sector maintained an 8 year high and is predicted to continue on this track in 2017.
The U.S. unemployment rate is at 4.8% following the latest jobs report that indicates 227,000 were added to payrolls in January. Construction alone accounted for 36,000 of the new jobs —a stellar beginning for 2017. It was the final Obama Administration jobs report and shows growth continuing at a robust pace, though far from a bonanza result for worker pay.
The U.A. Army has granted Energy Transfer Partners the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline over a contenious route in North Dakota. This follows the expedited review ofered by President Trump, which includes the Keystone Pipeline as well. Protests hampered the final mile and a half completion of the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile oil route from northern North Dakota to Patoka, IL. Native American tribes contend it would damage culturally significant sites and is an environmenal hazard where it crosses the Missouri River.
The new Homeland Security Chief has told officials on Capitol Hill he wants the border wall with Mexico built by 2019 — two years from now. Secretary John Kelly has been visiting various site locations along the border, and claims only the money aspect is what is deterring a construction start. Engineers have speculated that a Mexico-U.S. wall will need some 14.5 million tons of concrete alone.
Caterpillar's 2016 earnings report revealed an 18% drop in annual revenue. The company has beeen forced to lay off an estimated 16,000 employees worldwide and close some plants during the last two years. Caterpillar's 2017 outlook notes stabilizing prices for mineral commodities coinciding with improved parts orders to the companys resource-industries segment in the past three quarters. Construction industries sales are beginning to recover in China, but headwinds are expected to persist in North America and Europe. Cat anticipates 2017 revenues of about $37.5 billion, which would be a 2.6% drop from 2016’s total.
Drone technology is expanding with the announcement by Airware that Caterpillar Ventures has committed to the company latest funding round. Airware focuses on software and services for major coporations to increase their revenue and productivity. Airware is seen as a good fit for Cat customers to help in mining and construction projects inspections worldwide.
A $1.6 billion gas fired power plant is to begin construction soon at Dover, NY. Bechtel has the construction contract for the Cricket Valley Plant that will employ some 1,100 construction workers. The 1,100 megawatt combined cycle plant will provide electricity to one million homes when completed in 2020.
Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla, the Hyperloop and Space X Corporation has a thing about mobility to the point he believes he can resolve Los Angeles' horrendous traffic nightmare. Musk has recently pitched the idea of building tunnels under LA streets and highways. So, over the last weekend Musk had crews on the grounds of his Los Angeles headquarters excavate a test trench 39 feet wide, 50 feet long and 15 feet deep in an effort to try increasing tunneling speed between 500% and 1,000%. he is testing types of boring machines to assess which can dig speedier bore holes.
We're looking forward to examining the latest world's first fully operational 3D printed excavator to be unveiled at CONEXPO-CON/AGG in Las Vegas. The show opens at the Las Vegas Convention Center March 7th, and you can get your registration now for the entire exposition. Thousands of exhibitors are queing up for the show as the construction industry comes together for CONEXPO-CON/AGG that is held only once every three years.
In closing, all the talent in the world won’t take you anywhere without your teammates.
This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes the world a better place, presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.