[VIDEO] States Kick Off Ambitious Highway Plans

IL, IN, IA, MN, KY, VA, PA and Ohio are just some of the states with ambitious highway construction plans; plus more construction industry news on the May 31, 2018, edition of Construction News Tracker

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

Financing mechanisms ranging from vehicle miles taxes to higher fuel taxes to improve infrastructure funding are all under consideration by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The Secretary has been holding a number of transportation related seminars nationwide as the agency tries to get a grasp on what entities and methods can best fund the nation's growing appetite for the industry. AASHTO highlighted the situation during National Infrastructure Week recently focusing on the need for investment.

Highway construction season is officially underway nationwide and here are some of the states ambitious plans:

Illinois will have some 3,000 construction workers on the job as its rebuilds the Jane Byrne Interchange at Interstate 90- and 94 in Chicago. It also has work underway on I-88 and I-294, all part of its $4 billion spending plan in the next five years.

Indiana will spend nearly $212 million in federal and local funds on its roadways including 27 bridge replacements, 31 resurfacing and 17 projects that include ADA ramps, sidewalks and trails.

Iowa is kicking off its new 5-year, $3.5 billion road construction plan. This is the first year for the Hawkeye state's new 10 cent a gallon gas tax increase of which Iowa DOT seeks to spend 55% on rural projects. Thus far, the number of deficient bridges has been reduced from 256 to less than 50.

Minnesota intends to spend over a billion dollars on 253 highway projects this year. Heading up the list is a $239 million rebuild of its I-35/ I-94 interchange in Minneapolis. There are other projects along I-35 this year including a number of bridge rebuilds.

Kentucky intends to rebuild a thousand bridges and replace 5,000 miles of pavement under its new 6-year highway improvement program recently adopted. The ambitious effort has earmarked $4.6 billion for highway rebuilds alone.

Virginia will spend a whopping $16.9 billion over six years to improve its infrastructure and that, says VDOT, is just to get roadways up to fair condition. Nearly $8 billion is planned for bridge repairs alone.

Pennsylvania has tagged 600 miles of roadway and 80 bridges for replacement this construction season and will spend upwards of a billion on the effort. A half dozen counties will have roadway or infrastructure projects underway.

In Ohio nearly the same amount spent in 2017 will be spent this year on roadways, and that amounts to $2.35 billion. The Buckeye state has placed over a thousand road and bridge projects on its to do list of 5,400 miles of highway pavement and 1,040 bridge replacements.

The costs of goods and services used by contractors has risen at the fastest year to year rate since 2011, according to statistics updates in April. AGC reports its analysis of labor department figures shows contractors must continue to raise their prices in order to make a profit. AGC says the Producer Price Index for April rose 1% while over the past year it increased 6.4% the steepest materials price hike since 2011. The Producer Price Index for nonresidential construction was up 1.1% in April and 4.2% year over year.

Construction pros that have been working with their accountants to meet the Obama era overtime pay rule can ease off a bit. Word from the U.S. Labor Department is the rule that sets the overtime threshold at a $47,476 salary is being amended, and the October deadline for implementation is being reset to January 2019.

The rebuilt Goethells Bridge connecting Elizabeth, NJ, with Staten Island, NY, was opened to traffic May 21st. The $1.5 billion twin span is the first bridge undertaken by the Port Authority since 1931. It carries an estimated 90,000 vehicles daily and is a tolled crossing. To top it off, the project was completed on time and budget.

Will we still love New York even without the I Love New York highway signs? New York hopes so, despite the fact the Federal Highway Administration has ordered them removed from interstate roadways in the Empire state. The FHWA initially denied the NYDOT effort in 2013, but they went ahead anyway under orders from the governor. Now the FHWA has won out ordering the 500 signs be removed ASAP under threat of withholding $14 million in federal highway funding. Supposed to have been done in March but delayed by snowstorms and reluctance till now.

Wrapping up this edition, a lot of people have great ideas, but nothing in the world is cheaper than a good idea with no action.

This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes the world a better place, presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.

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