[NEWS TRACKER VIDEO] Trump Proposes Changes to Federal Environmental Oversight on Construction Projects

President Trump has proposed a new rule that would rollback federal environmental oversight of construction projects; plus more industry news on the January 23, 2020 edition of Construction News Tracker.

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

Trump proposes changes to federal environmental oversight

President Trump proposed a new rule that would dramatically rollback federal environmental oversight of construction projects. The rule, currently open to public comment, would narrow influence of the National Environmental Policy Act that went into effect in the 70’s. That law required federal agencies to consider the scale of problems of a project in air, land, water and wildlife giving the public the right of review and input.

The President, in his zeal to ease federal oversight on major projects such as highways and pipelines, said infrastructure has been bogged down under such review, and builders are fed up with federal guidelines. The rollback would gut major environmental programs and shorten the public right to comment on projects that contain federal funding while federal agencies would be limited to two years of project review of environmental impact.

Environmental groups are urging the Administration to change course, and the Natural Resources Defense Council is on record saying they think the move will be vulnerable in court.

AGC 2020 construction outlook

We’ve been assessing the outlook for 2020 on what the construction marketplace is expected to look like going forward. We’ve reached out to an expert on the topic, AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson, for his educated outlook on the subject.

Construction continues to add jobs

The nation added 145,000 new jobs in December. The bulk of the hiring was among smaller and mid-sized businesses with less than 500 employees. Of that total, construction firms added 37,000 jobs while trade, transportation and utilities brought on another 78,000.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate remains at 3.5%, and the agency says the labor market remains robust.

Most difficult construction jobs

Craftjack asked hundreds of contractors for their input in rating 32 construction tasks based on difficulty to master and physical demands, and they got some interesting answers. Roofing and demolition are said to be the most physically challenging, while the hardest jobs to master are electrical, carpentry, and heating and air conditioning. 1,600 contractors participated in the survey. Cabinetmakers, masons and plumbers followed on the hard task list.

Arizona opens Loop 202

The Arizona DOT has opened a new stretch of freeway outside of Phoenix during the holidays. Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway is a 22-mile-long expansion costing $1.7 billion and is a P3 public private partnership. Loop 202 connects the east and west valleys across the Phoenix area, and DOT officials say ultimately saved $100 million in costs via the P3 method of finance.

Contractor used wrong concrete mix on I75

Say it isn’t so. That’s what the Michigan DOT expressed recently when it discovered that a half mile of Interstate 75 will have to be replaced because the contractor recently involved with a total rehab of the roadway used the wrong concrete mix.

Michigan DOT inspectors caught the error, and officials decided to replace the half mile segment over concerns for the long-term quality and resiliency. 2020 is the final year of the $224 million freeway project that covers eight miles and improves 18 structures as well as noise walls. DOT hopes to fix the mishap by next spring.

Traffic fatalities on highways are declining

A message of cautious optimism from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That due to the fact that traffic fatalities on the nation’s highways have fallen in 2019 to 1.10 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled - down from 1.13 at this time last year.

NHTSA officials say the 2.2% drop in fatality rates is a good sign even though safety advocates remain firm on the need for continued oversight on excessive speed, distracted driving, and the use of drugs and alcohol by motorists.

In closing, the secret of achievement is not to let what you’re doing get to you before you get to it.

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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