[VIDEO] Rising Seas Could Breach $14B in New Orleans Flood Control in 4 Years

Corps of Engineers raising 350 miles of New Orleans flood walls and levees; plus more construction industry news in this edition of Construction News Tracker

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

Fourteen billion dollars was spent on flood control projects in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and now it could be all for naught. The Army Corps of Engineers claims that shrinking levees and rising sea levels could leave the city without adequate flood protection in as little as four years. The Army Corps says it is reassessing New Orleans flood work by raising 350 miles of floodwalls and levees. The Army Corps only completed its projects last year after nearly 13 years working on the system to protect the city with its massive system of pumps along with the dikes.

New construction starts continue to struggle falling three-tenths of a percent in March to finish 9.7% behind the first quarter of 2018. Wells Fargo Housing Index is reporting housing starts have fallen in six of the last seven months. Single family starts are down 5.3%, and multifamily starts are off 18.8% compared with the first quarter of 2018. Associated Builders and Contractors reports that despite this, homebuilder confidence remains high with expectations over the next six months improving with better than average interest rates and a focus on new buyer confidence in the market.

Would you have the correct answer if asked which city is the most expensive place to build in the world? The answer, San Francisco. According to management firm Turner and Townsend 2019 Construction Market Survey, the average cost per square foot to build in the California city is $416 5% above that of 2017 and higher than New York City, which posts its cost to build at $368 per square foot. The survey cost of construction list for North America places Seattle at $338, Chicago at $296 and Vancouver at $253. Worldwide, London, Zurich and Hong Kong were the most expensive, but still not as high as San Francisco.

Caterpillar stock is on a roll. The company announced its first quarter sales and revenue came in at $13.5 billion, a 5% boost from the same time frame in 2018. Profit of $3.25 per share is a record at 19% above that of 2018. Higher sales volume driven by increased demand for equipment and services is behind the record pace.

At the recent international construction show bauma 19 in Munich, Germany, Cat announced a Global Equipment Operator Challenge to take place this year. Construction and Infrastructure Vice President Jason Conklin related to ForConstructionPros Editor Greg Udelhofen how the program is expected to proceed.

[VIDEO] Caterpillar Kicks Off Global Operator Challenge

The global challenge will conclude at CONEXPO in March of next year at Las Vegas. Bauma reported 600,000 visitors from 200 countries to its exposition.

The Governor of California says he will not ban building projects in high risk fire areas of that state. Gov. Gavin Newsom released a report outlining the challenges of the Golden State's growing wildfire threat which suggested local governments de-emphasize building close to wildfire zones. Fire officials claim there are 2.7 million buildings deemed as close to such fire areas including 180 cities and towns similar to Paradise, which was decimated, and any new structures should be discouraged. The Governor claims there is no certain means to keep people from building in threatened areas, and wants state officials to keep researching ways for new construction to continue.

The Federal Highway Administration reports that Americans traveled 3.225 trillion miles last year, an increase of 12.2 billion miles over 2017. The annual vehicle miles traveled traffic volume trends report also says 2018 is the fifth year in a row that exceeded the 3 trillion miles traversed. The good news comes in the number of traffic fatalities reported  down 2% or 673 from the previous year. Now if we could agree to reach consensus on federal infrastructure legislation to improve our highways, the nation would accomplish a milestone.

Finally, in closing, self-confidence in itself is of no value. It is useful only when put to work.

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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