Construction News Tracker is brought to you by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.
The construction sector added only 11,00 jobs last month. And the unemployment rate has now dipped to its lowest point since 2001 at 4.3%. Overall the nation's payrolls were bolstered by 138,000 jobs, lower than economists had expected.
With barely a whimper the Trump Administration plan to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure was presented as a six-page fact sheet to the proposed 2018 budget unveiled recently. It lays out $200 billion to be spent in federal money over the next 10 years. Money on a multitude of highway and infrastructure projects nationwide coupled with incentives for states and private investors by leveraging spending power to $1 trillion and concentrating federal dollars spent on national priorities, and if need be tolling our entire interstate highway system. Meanwhile, the board of AASHTO has called on the Administration for a long-term revenue fix for the Highway Trust Fund that expires in 2.5 years.
Enforcement of a highly contentious new regulation from the Federal Highway Administration has been delayed after facing strong pushback. AGC is among the entities roiled by the regulation requiring states to develop performance measures for tracking greenhouse gas emissions on newly funded federal highways. A throwback to the Obama Administration, the plan was aimed at reducing or eliminating those highway projects deemed damaging to the environment, and potentially replacing them with alternative options.
The U.S. Commerce Department has revised its economic report for the first quarter of 2017. The agency raised the GDP from its initial stage of 0.7% to an estimated annual rate of 1.2%. The fourth quarter of 2016 finished with a growth rate of 2.1%. The 2017 second quarter numbers are expected to remain tepid..
The Architecture Billing Index remains strong as it has for the previous three months, coming in at 50.9. The Index by the American Institute of Architects is an indicator of future construction spending with a nine to 12 month lead time. All sectors - multifamily, residential and mixed practice - continue to show modest growth.
Faced with a billion dollars worth of highway repair projects among 424 sites statewide the California Department of Transportation has another new one to resolve, and it’s big.
Along the Pacific Coast highway a massive landslide has wiped out a major section of highway eight miles north of the San Luis Obispo Monterey County line leaving behind a 40-foot layer of rock and dirt. Early estimates from geologists are that a million tons of earth rumbled down a saturated slope along Big Sur leaving a quarter mile of highway impassible while adding an additional 13 acres to the coastline. When repairs can begin is questionable at this date as the earth remains unstable.
Another major project underway are repairs to the nation's tallest dam, the Oroville in northern California.
Excessive winter rains created havoc by gouging massive holes in the spillway forcing nearly 200,000 residents to be evacuated. Now in emergency recovery mode the state has picked Kiewit Construction in a $275 million contract to demolish the effected areas, lay a new foundation of roller compacted concrete and then a permenant structural concrete over it. And it’s a race against the clock as the repairs need to be made by November for complete curing to take effect and the dam spillway to be fully functional for yet another winter season.
Faced with paying the second highest gas tax in the nation Washington state wants consumers to know exactly where their money is going. The state transportation budget recently signed into law requires a sticker on each and every gas pump in Washington state to display the fact that the 68 cents per gallon tax is divided between the state tax of 49.4 and the federal tax of 18.6 cents per gallon.
Our neighbors to the north in Canada are proposing to build a high speed rail between Toronto and Windsor, Ontario, which lies just across the river from Detroit. It would be linked with the new Gordie Howe International Bridge. The $21 billion project of 230 miles would cut the commute time in half and connect several cities along its path as well a riders to Toronto Pearson Airport. The massive rail system would be funded from its new Canadian infrastructure bank and private investors.
Work on the world's largest fertilizer production plant near Enid, OK, continues unabated. Sparked by a soaring demand for fertilizer nationwide Koch Industries began construction in 2013 of the $1.3 billion facility. It is designed to produce ammonia used in liquid fertilizer and granular urea and when completed later this year will have production capacity of an additional one million tons per year.
In closing, an obstacle is something you see when you take your eyes off the goal.
This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes the world a better place, presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.