Construction News Tracker Video: Oregon Approves Vehicle Miles Tax

The voluntary road usage system would assess a 1.5 cent per mile charge based on miles driven plus more construction industry news in the July 25, 2013 edition of Construction News Tracker

Buy America Program Extended...

Major changes in store for green LEED buildings...

And a big jobs boost in store for Louisiana...

That and more on Construction News Tracker, brought to you by Caterpillar and produced by

The Federal Highway Administration has extended to year's end its Buy America First Program which applies to non-federally funded utility relocation projects nationwide. In California alone nearly $2 billion in highway expansion projects underway were affected. Now the impact of the rule that requires domestically produced materials for utilities and relocation work be used in construction will take effect next January.

Analysts are advising not to worry about the recent downturn in U.S. housing starts. The drop of 9.9 percent from May to June is seen as a hiccup because most of the drop occurs in the multifamily sector while single family housing starts remain on the upclimb.

In an earlier edition of Construction News Tracker, we told you that Oregon was considering adoption of a vehicle miles tax. It's now a done deal. The state legislature approved a voluntary road usage system that would assess a 1.5 cent per mile charge on 5,000 cars and light trucks based on miles driven and issue an equivalent refund amount, thus replacing the traditional gas tax program. It takes effect in July of 2015, and again, it's voluntary.

The World Green Building Program has been updated by adoption of LEED V4 ratings. The certification system requires all LEED projects achieve higher levels of building performance and environmental outcome with over 54,000 projects nationwide.

USGBC's LEED v4 Passes Ballot and Will Launch This Fall

The decision, however, did have some fallout. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports a lobbying effort for the American High Performance Building Coalition, the lobbying operation of the American Chemistry Council and firmly opposed to LEED's V4. The move resulted in Skanska, the international construction frim, resigning its membership after it decided the Chamber decision was on Skanska could not accept.

Two major energy related projects are on the horizon for Louisiana. Colorado based Sundrop Fuels will build a $500 million plant at Alexandria to covert natural gas into gasoline as well as a demonstration plant to make green gasoline from paper mill byproducts.

Meanwhile, Sasol's massive ethane cracker and chemicals plant at Lake Charles is taking shape. Texas-based Fluor Corporation has been awarded the engineering and design contract for the $16 billion project set to begin operating by 2017. Thousands of construction jobs will result from both projects as well as thousands more permanent site jobs.

There's a spider at work in New York City, and it has nothing to do with the comic book character.

Suspended Scaffolding Used to Install Glass Curtain at World Trade Center Towers

The device provides suspended scaffolding and materials handling to construct a glass curtain wall on Towers One and Four of the World Trade Center. Benson Industries of Portland is the glazing contractor on the project, and Safeworks Spider is hard at work. A dozen swing stages are employed along with 20- and 30-foot modular platforms to raise some 3,000 glass panels into place and glaze them. With multiple lifts the panels can be raised at 40 to 80 feet per minute and placed precisely moving with the custom outrigger beam built just for the project.

Video: Spider and Beta Max Installing Glass Panels on Freedom Tower

The glass panel installation job is expected to be finished in September.

And we wrap up this edition with the following, good judgment comes from experience; and experience, well that comes from poor judgment.