Construction News Tracker is presented by Caterpillar and produced by Forconstructionpros.com.
Is there a realistic chance for an infrastructure bill in the next Congress? The answer is yes, as many sectors of the industry including highly placed associations concur. Many of those working on the issue say there’s a path forward to raise the nation’s fuel tax that’s not been touched since 1993. One such proposition by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce seeks a 25 cent per gallon hike in the tax to raise an estimated $394 billion over the next 10 years. Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, recently on CNBC, says the impetus for renewed infrastructure is building.
Home builder confidence took its biggest tumble in five years in November as nearly every metric on the Wells Fargo Housing Market Index dropped. The closely watched metric fell some 8 points to level off at 60, pounded by labor shortages and rising regulatory costs. Builder sentiment is said to remain in positive territory even as single family building permits through October are running below starts pointing to lackluster future construction.
Meanwhile, Moodys Investors Service lowered its outlook for the building materials industry from positive to stable as it reports those companies decelerating in growth for 2019 to an annualized pace below 7%. Moodys analysts claim growth in single family construction will moderate to 3.2% next year, down substantially from the average growth of 9% to 10% in the years of 2015 to 2017. Moodys also sees multifamily growing only 2.4% in 2019 and nonresidentail growth at 4% over the same period.
The last 60-mile section of Interstate Highway 269 in Mississippi has been completed after seven years of construction. The segment was officially opened recently permitting traffic between Hernando, Mississippi , and Millinton, Tennessee. The link is seen as a major artery of livestock and commodities in the region. It took 13,891,000 cubic yards of earthwork, 862,000 tons of asphalt and nearly 93,000 cubic yards of concrete to complete the job. I-269 intersects with other major highways and is seen as part of the overall plan for Interstate 69 to run from the Mexico border to Canada in coming years.
A $2 billion light rail system for southwestern Minneapolis has been green lighted by that city’s Metropolitan Council. Designed to link downtown with the city of Eden Prairie, the nearly year-long bid process was finally settled when Lunda/C.S. McCrossan was awarded the $799 million phase for the project. $435 million was also awarded to begin construction this winter. The Federal Transit Administration will kick in $929 million for the 15-mile light rail, the third such project in the Minneapolis region.
A Federal District Judge in Montana has put a kink in the plan for a Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to the U.S. citing State Department rules regarding oil spills and other environmental impacts. The judge halted what was seen as initial construction of the controversial $8 billion pipeline from Alberta designed to carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily across eight states to the nation’s Gulf Coast.
It’s not too early to be thinking of World of Concrete 2019. It kicks off January 21st at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and as always promises to be an outstanding exhibition. Registration is available online at worldofconcrete2019.com. We hope to see you there.
In any group of people, a small fraction will be leaders, a larger fraction will be followers and a substantial proportion just won't want to get involved.
This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes the world a better place, presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.