[VIDEO] House Passes Two-week Highway Funding Extension

The House has voted for a two-week highway funding extension through December 4 allowing more time to find money to fund a six-year highway bill; plus more construction industry news on the November 24, 2015, edition of Construction News Tracker

A Highway Fund extension breather...

Illinois projects hampered by politics...

And Bridge in a Backpack explained...

That and more on Construction News Tracker presented by Caterpillar.


The immediate pressure is off. The House has voted an extension until December 4th to find money to fund a six-year highway bill.

House and Senate conferees are hard at work trying to reach a funding source to cover all six years instead of just three years of the appropriation. House Transportation Committee Chair Bill Shuster leads the combined House Senate Conference Committee.

Jim Tymon, COO of AASHTO, the state highway transportation group, is upbeat about a fully funded outcome

There are major funding issues remaining before the entire bill can be resolved. As one lawmaker put it, it's time to end the cycle of wasteful extensions.

The latest expires December 4th and provides all the participants in the combined House/Senate negotiations some relief in coming together.

Construction starts for the fourth quarter of the year are expected to be slightly off earlier predictions, according to CMD, formerly known as Reed Construction Data. The economic firm sees a growth of 6.5% in construction starts for the balance of 2015, compared with earlier forecasts of 7.1%. But the outlook for 2016 growth is positive at 8.4%. Only civil construction is expected to slow from its heady pace in 2015. CMD Chief Economist Alex Carrick is upbeat about the next few years as well.

Politics at the Illinois State Capitol has claimed $700 million in construction projects statewide. Governor Bruce Rauner stopped all construction at state parks, prisons and universities last summer in a budget dispute, affecting 419 contracts at 218 jobsites — 95 of them in progress at the time.

Contractors have been forced to play a wait and see game to get materials, labor and equipment on hold. There appears to be no resolution in sight, and with winter fast approaching some $2 million is needed to protect those sites that were started and then stopped.

Cat has introduced a new mini excavator to the marketplace. The 307E2 model is unique in that the machine is built in China and imported to the U.S. Equipment Today Editor Becky Schultz talked to Cat representative Sherrie Williams about some features of the new machine.

Maybe you've heard about Bridge in a Backpack, It's really not, though the new technology is revolutionizing the replacement scenario nationwide. Here's a brief tutorial.

Connecticut DOT claims the backpack bridge idea will also save long-term by greatly reducing element degradation by use of the composite shell. Bridge in a Backpack was developed at the University of Maine. 

It's always bigger in Texas. That term can be applied to the new Dallas Cowboys training facility. Built on 91 acres at Frisco, Texas, the NFL team indoor practice facility will include a hotel, medical center, office buildings and a city-owned convention center.

The city ponied up $90 million of the $252 million cost. More significantly, the Cowboys will share the complex with eight area high school football teams when completed next year.

Finally, the human mind ordinarily operates at only 10% of its capacity. The rest is overhead for the operating system.

This is construction News Tracker presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.

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