Construction News Tracker Video: Picture Brightens for Construction Economy

Positive vibes from economic experts and a healthy job market gaining steam indicate a brightening economy; plus more industry news on the January 9 edition of Construction News Tracker

The economic picture continues to brighten...

Kentucky/Indiana highway project grows...

Kohler rolls out portable generator line...

And a look at cheesy ice road solutions...

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

Although the new year has barely kicked in, there's plenty of positive vibe from economic experts. Initial reports indicate a healthy job market gaining steam as the unemployment rate is now down to 7 percent. Analysis of federal data show construction jobs increased in 211 metro areas, dropped in 67 and were unchanged in 61 metros year to year through November 2013. And the Federal Reserve Bank shows increased confidence going forward.

Construction Employers Add 17,000 Jobs In November

Consumers are pushing the production and spending sections as housing, manufacturing and other industries that make up the GDP continue to grow in turn driving energy and business industries along with them.

The first of nearly 900 concrete beams to form the new I-65 highway crossing between Louisville, Ky., and Jeffersonville, Ind., are now in place. Project manager Walsh Construction says each of teh 67-ton beams are 118 feet long and form the base for the massive new bridge that will eventually connect the two cities when finished in 2016. Crews are expected to begin placing the steel decking next spring followed by concrete for the road bed.

The push to require cool pavement techniques is headed for a total revue following a recent university report on the subject. The National Center of Excellence for Smart Innovations at Arizona State claims there's little benefit to using reflective pavement in urban settings to reduce temperatures. The story also questions the use of reflective roofing materials as well. As a result, California is ordering a comprehensive review of such policies.

Pennsylvania has $2.4 billion to spend on its rapid bridge replacement project - and it may now be enough. PennDOT hopes to replace 500 bridges deemed deficient and has reached out to contractors for bids that will be accepted through the end of January. This despite the fact the state has 988 spans eligible for a redo when construction begins next year.

Kohler has jumped into the portable generator business. The new gasoline powered lineup ranges from 2 to 12.3 kilowatts and will include water and trash pumps that can be used by a myriad of industries as well as residential use. Kohler for years has made standby generators, but this is the company's first foray into the portable line.

It wouldn't be America's Dairyland if it weren't for cheese, and now Wisconsin's largest city is taking the nickname one step higher. Milwaukee has begun a pilot project to use a mozzerella by-proudct of cheese brine mixed in with road salt to combat ice covered streets. When you live in a region that gets more than its fair share of ice and snow every dollar counts as Road Chief Jeffrey Tews explains.

Initially the cheese brine is being put down on streets in two neighborhoods. In a city that uses over 60,000 tons of rock salt annually, it makes economic sense to give it a try as Mayor Tom Barrett outlined. As of the latest report, the cheese brine, usually an industrial watewater, is being provided free with the city only having to pay for transportation cost. And it has very little odor to it.