[VIDEO] AGC Warns Metals Tariffs Imperil Contractors’ Financial Health

Steel and aluminum tariffs could make infrastructure less affordable, foil economic growth efforts and imperil contractors' financial health; plus more construction industry news on the March 22, 2018, edition of Construction News Tracker

Construction News Tracker is presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.

The imposition of tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum are likely to come back to effect the nations construction industry soon. AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson says they’re hopeful that the White House will recognize that this could make infrastructure less affordable, foil efforts to rev up economic growth and imperil the financial health of contractors who have fixed price contracts but have not locked in steel purchase prices.

Construction Likely 'Among Biggest Losers' in Trump’s Steel Trade War

AGC also said independent studies estimate that nearly 30,000 construction workers will lose their jobs as a result of the new tariffs. ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basau said now is a good time for contractors to lock in prices as the future has become quite uncertain.

A whopping 313,000 jobs were created in February far exceeding the 205,000 economists had predicted. That keeps the nation's unemployment rate at 4.1% the strongest monthly gain since July 2016.

The untimely collapse of a pedestrian bridge at Miami’s Florida International University March 15th is certain to draw intense scrutiny. FIGG Bridge Group of Tallahassee, FL, is the designer and Munilla Construction Management of Miami the fabricator. Not yet in use, the 950-ton bridge had been constructed nearby then rolled into place five days earlier. It was built via the accelerated bridge construction method . It was over 700 feet long and spanned an 8-lane highway crushing vehicles beneath as it crashed into the road, killing at least six and injuring many more. The NTSB is  reporting that post-tensioning force was being applied and strengthening of a diagonal bridge member was underway when it collapsed and that a FIGG bridge engineer had contacted the Florida DOT to report finding a crack in the structure the day before the disaster occurred.

The second straight month in construction slowdown has come in February in the commercial sector, according to the Dodge Momentum Index, despite the fact the Index rose from 146.2 to 146.9 for February. Commercial activity was off 4.8%. Sixteen nonresidential projects valued at $100 million or more entered the planning stages last month. The institutional sector rose 8.2% in February.

A trillion dollar, 10-year infrastructure plan composed entirely of direct federal funding has been proposed by Senate democrats in Washington. It’s a counter proposal to the Trump Administration's $1.5 trillion blueprint that includes $200 billion in federal spending. The democrats plan is a call to tighten up recently enacted tax breaks for corporations. An AGC spokesperson said, ” There is a lot to like in the plan, but it is difficult to see a path where Congress and the administration would end up supporting the pay fors outlined in it.” The Trump budget now calls for a 19% cut in DOT discretionary spending and elimination of the TIGER Grant program. However, surveys of manufacturing and construction industries indicate strong support for instituting an infrastructure effort as soon as possible as the existing Highway Trust Fund is exhausted in a couple of years. House Speaker Paul Ryan has told legislators to look for a series of five or six infrastructure bills to complete the Trump proposal.

A nationwide survey of construction executives has been summarized in the Wells Fargo 2018 Construction Industry Forecast, and it’s bullish on America. The optimism quotient is at a 20-year high of 133, 10 points above one given in 2017 , 25 points higher than 2016 and includes both distributors and end users. This is the 42nd annual Wells Fargo Construction Industry Forecast. In similar fashion, the recently concluded U.S. Chamber of Commerce Construction Report, which uses Dodge Data research, came in with a score of 74 out of 100, another highly favorable barometer.

The Indiana Department of Transportation has released its final environmental impact statement for the Interstate 69 final segment. The 26-mile-long stretch from Martinsville to Indianapolis will require the relocation of 80 businesses and 200 homes. The state is proceeding with obtaining property rights. Construction on the sixth and final segment of I-69 will begin next year and cost an estimated $1.6 billion. The roadway is expected to be completed in 2025.

In closing, too many people are ready to carry the stool when the piano needs to be moved.

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