[VIDEO] St. Louis Bridge Project Among First Casualties of Trade War

Infrastructure projects on the drawing boards could be in jeopardy as prices for imported construction materials face stiff penalties; plus more construction industry news on the July 26, 2018 edition of Construction News Tracker

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

Tariffs on steel and aluminum have already come back to haunt efforts to improve U.S. infrastructure. Projects underway this year appear to be exempt, but.those on future drawing boards could face jeopardy as prices for imported construction materials face stiff penalties. AGC Vice President Brian Turmail says the Administration is making it very difficult for construction firms. Case in point is St. Louis where funding for a bridge replacement has been pulled to be recalculated over higher steel costs. Most U.S. projects must use American steel, and manufacturers are increasing costs to cover their import tariffs. The price of hot rolled coil steel has risen 40% this year alone as a direct result of higher tariffs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported June construction input prices were up 10% over last year…….

The U.S. Commerce Department reports that housing starts fell sharply in June by 12.3%. The drop from 1.34 million down to 1.17 million in May, a seasonally adjusted rate, brought housing construction to its lowest pace since September of 2017. Both single family and multifamily starts fell sharply dropping in all four U.S. regions. More than half of the housing starts drop came in the Midwest, which plunged 35.8%.

U.S. housing permits also fell 2.2% in June. Some of the housing volatility may reflect unusual seasonal timing rather than a downward trend as the National Association of Homebuilders sentiment index remains high at 68, well above its midpoint of 50.

Fuel taxes in a number of states were changed in July.

  • In Oklahoma, the diesel tax jumped from 14 to 20 cents a gallon for the first time since 1987. Tthe gasoline tax also rose from 17 to 20 cents per gallon.
  • Indiana diesel tax rose a whopping 26 cents to 48 cents per gallon after the state eliminated its fuel surcharge on motor carriers and combined it with the fuel tax.
  • South Carolina increased its gas and diesel taxes by 2 cents to 20.75 per gallon. Its part of a six point increase that will top out at 28.75 per gallon in 2022.
  • Tennessee hiked its diesel tax by 3 cents to 25.4 per gallon and the gas tax by a penny.
  • Connecticut hiked its diesel tax by 2.2 cents a gallon from 41.7 to 43.9 for one year effective July 1st.
  • And Maryland raised its diesel and gas taxes by 1.5 cents to 36 cents per gallon tying it to inflation costs.

The only bright light on the tax horizon came in Nebraska, which dropped its diesel tax by four-tenths of a cent to 28 cents per gallon.

The I-4 Ultimate road replacement around Orlando is in hot water. The joint venture of Granite, Lane and Skanska reports to its investors that the 7-year project is presently 245 days behind schedule and $100 million over budget. The I-4 Mobility Partners blames all sorts of reasons for the problems ranging from sinkholes to hurricane delays as it seeks to build 21 miles of the interstate highway and its interchanges into expanded roadway with toll lanes. Moodys investors has downgraded the $2.3 billion dollar project as a result. The Florida DOT has 120 days to review the report and issue a finding.

The town of Dale in Spencer County, IN, near Evansville is set to get an economic boost. Riverview Energy seeks to build a $2.5 billion plant to convert coal into diesel fuel. Because of the areas plentiful coal reserves the location is desirable for such use of 1.6 million tons of coal annually converting into 4.6 million barrels of diesel and 2.5 million barrels of naptha. Officials expect to hire over 200 workers for the plant and expect about 2,000 construction workers onsite at the project.

Nevada DOT is expected to open a 15-mile segment of Interstate Highway 11 this week three months ahead of schedule. The segment is the newest addition to the federal interstate system since 1992 and creates a quicker route between Henderson, NV, and the Hoover Dam. The $318 million roadway is a joint project of Nevada DOT and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. The highway is expected to link Phoenix and Las Vegas in the next few years.

According to researchers at the University of Michigan, they have been able to develop a type of concrete that is more ductile. In other words, bendable without fracturing. Bendable concrete is a much safer product, extends its service life and reduces maintenance. The Michigan lab has used nacre, also known as mother of pearl the irredescent material on the interior of shells. Nacre is brittle because of its architecture, which looks like a brick wall. The bricks of Aragonite find their composition is very elastictechnically by using concrete alongside the nacre and dispersing tiny fibers inside the composite. It creates a controlled slippage which then produces a bendable concrete all pretty concentrated science.

Finally, anything scarce is valuable; praise for example.

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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