A Pledge from the Trump Administration to fund $25 billion in rural area bridge, road and other infrastructure projects with federal dollars is among a number of new proposals from the White House dealing with infrastructure. Streamlining the regulatory and permitting process and workforce training are new additions to the Trump plan. It seeks to create one million apprentices in two years, significantly reduce permitting time through creation of two councils and streamline federal review. Meanwhile, 250 house members, including 119 republicans have signed a letter asking the House Ways and Means Committee to fix the beleaguered Highway Trust Fund.
Single family construction dipped two points this month to 67 on the National Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. The score for May was reduced by one point to 69 as builder confidence for new single family construction amidst labor and lot shortages take hold. All three sub indices also slipped as sales expectations and current conditions dropped for the next six month outlook.
Labor law guidance stemming from the Obama Administration has been withdrawn from consideration by the U.S.Labor Department. The edict would have required companies to meet a stricter interpretation of rules governing independent contractors and made more firms jointly responsible to mis-classified employees. It was considered a crackdown on such workers, and compelled companies to be held equally responsible for labor law violations. Despite the Labor Department move, however, the National Labor Relations Board has not changed its position on enforcing the rule, and there are still some specific cases being decided by the courts.
A rift between the Veterans Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers has stalled continued work on some $1.4 billion worth of construction projects nationwide stemming from the Denver hospital project $1 billion overcost debacle. The Army Corps was placed in charge of all VA building design and plans exceeding $100 million by the Congress. Presently there are 11 stalled VA projects along with 400 vacant and 735 under utilized buildings.
Good news from Dodge Momentum Index, it has resumed a positive direction. After April came in at a downward revised showing of 133.7 the month of May reading is up 4% to 139.1. The institutional sector was up 2.9%; commercial up 4.8% to an eight and a half year high. Dodge also reports a half dozen commercial and institutional projects valued at over $100 million entered the plan stages last month.
Farm machinery giant John Deere will acquire the road machinery group Wirtgen for $5.2 billion. The June 1st announcement claimed the purchase of the German-based Wirtgen would significantly expand Deere’s product line of loaders, earth movers, graders and dump trucks to a sales network in 100 countries. Seventy-percent of Deere's 2016 revenue came from agriculture related sales. This diversification is certain to bring the company a significant global reach in heavy construction machines.
Finding qualified labor is a concern for those involved with constructing a new Pensacola Bay Bridge. Skanska USA Civil Southeast and Careersource Escarosa, a Pensacola-based nonprofit, have joined forces to reach out to contractors and job seekers in the area. Skanska has offered job training for all trades associated with building the new $400 million Pensacola to Gulf Breeze Bridge. Preliminary work is now underway on the span expected to be finished in 2021.
August 26th is the date for the first preseason football game in the new $1.5 billion Mercedes Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta, and whether it will be ready is another question. The complex design of retractable roof has caused one delay after another as the Falcons football team anxiously awaits its debut. Alignment of the eight petal like pieces that weigh 500 tons each is critical to the 65,000 seat complex. It has already caused $208 million in change orders to the AECOM Hunt construction project.
A change in sales tax abatements will allow Apple to buy land in downtown Reno with a tax rate of half of a percent. As a result, Apple will double by $1 billion its massive technology center in the Reno Technology Park located in the Truckee River Canyon outside Sparks, a Reno bedroom community. Due to its soaring iCloud storage demand Apple says it will spend $4 million on a warehouse alone, and bring in hundreds of construction jobs on the project.
In closing, never trust someone who takes hours to text you back, but when you hang out with them they check their phone every minute.
This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes the world a better place, presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.