Video: Congress Has Less Than 3 Weeks to Save the Highway Trust Fund

The present Highway Trust Fund program is set to expire July 31, 2015, with little likelihood of an agreement for a long-term solution; plus more construction industry news on the July 9, 2015, edition of Construction News Tracker

Congressional road money debacle continues...

Some workers get to stretch and flex...

And a robot that can build a house in a day...

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


The hunt for the golden goose of highway fund money continues on Capitol Hill. When they return from the July 4th holiday representatives will have less than three weeks to hammer out a deal to pay for the nation's infrastructure as the present program expires July 31st. Political disagreement is so entrenched there's little likelihood of an agreement for a dedicated source beyond short-term extensions — no numbering 34 since the nation's gas tax was raised.

Highway Trust Fund Ticker Reappears

This scenario really cripples state DOT operations that depend on federal support. Pennsylvania DOT Chief Leslie Richards explains...

Her words are echoed by her counterpart Tennessee DOT boss John Schroer...

You can view the entire story on AASHTO Transportation TV.

The U.S. DOT reports the Highway Trust Fund will fall below $4 billion by the end of the month and will be totally insolvent by September without Congressional action. Meanwhile, a half dozen states raised their gas tax levels July 1st — Georgia, Maryland, Nebraska, Rhode Island and Vermont — on average from 0.35 to 7 cents per gallon in an effort to replace lost federal transportation dollars.

The nation's jobs picture continues to brighten after 233,000 jobs were added in June, putting the rate at 5.3%. The construction sector neither gained or lost jobs in June. However, the labor force participation rate has dropped to its lowest level in 38 years to 62.6% as many people have simply stopped looking for jobs.

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision affecting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could rejuvenate the health care construction field. As confusion reigned amidst key questions of the legality of the ACA, health care put-in-place dropped 20% below average dating back to 2008. The court decision is seen as a harbinger of renewed health care capitol spending decisions in the near future.

Consolidation in the equipment rental industry. A proposed merger of Hertz and United Rentals has contractors buzzing over the fallout. The Jana Fund is behind the plan, picking up more United Rentals stock this year. In total, Jana holds 5.8% of United Rentals and 9.3% of Hertz Rental. A timetable has yet to be revealed for any deal.

Skanska has initiated an employee program designed to reduce workplace injuries. Daily stretch and flex group exercises has created a reduction by 73% of soft tissue injury and 66% of back injury. These include normal physical muscle tears, bruises and sprains. Even management participates. Skanska says the effort provides for more alertness as the stretching and flexing eases shoulder, forearm and calf muscles and, of course, contributes to lower injury and liability costs.

To be green or not, that's the question facing many contractors. Interest is picking up according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Overriding the decision is that of obtaining certification. Of particular interest is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which we commonly refer to as LEED. Associated Builders and Contractors provides plenty of information on the subject. Green building continues to grow, evidenced by an estimated $120 to $145 billion in green nonresidential construction this year.

Why You Should Become an Accredited Green Contractor

Think you've seen it all? Not by a long shot. On the horizon is a brick laying robot pioneered by Australian engineer Mark Pivac who will soon enter the market with Hadrian.

Finally, do not rely on a rabbit's foot for luck. After all, it didn't work out too well for the rabbit.

This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes our world a better place. Brought to you by Caterpillar and produced by We're on Twitter using #constructionnews and Facebook as the streaming Web never ends.