Construction News Tracker is presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.
Waiting for federal infrastructure money
It's time for the dollars to begin flowing. That’s what contractors and engineers are awaiting as the 2020 federal infrastructure fiscal year is in place through next September. AGC officials note that the latest spending package was signed into law December 20th, and it takes some 60-90 days for the federal bureaucrats to begin doling out the $46 billion in federal money.
Department of Transportation outlays are expected to be the first to be distributed to states by formula and financed by the Highway Trust Fund mechanism. AASHTO officials says its normal for there to be a few weeks time from appropriation to obligation limit, but 2020 appears to be following the template set out by the FAST Act adopted in 2015. Contractors just want to begin putting the money to work.
Mississippi using lottery money to pay for road repair
Pavement restoration projects in the state of Mississippi are going to be funded via an unusual method. The State Transportation Commission has recently voted to fund the first $30 million through lottery proceeds. The lottery law was enacted in August of 2018 and designated the first $80 million in proceeds to pay for state roads and bridges. The balance of the first $30 million approved will be allocated when the funds become available later this year.
Can concrete pavements be better?
The question is how to write better specifications to achieve better concrete pavements. That's what a consortium of groups is seeking to achieve via a five year performance engineered mixtures or PEM program. Eighteen state DOTs along with concrete industry associations are engaged in a pooled effort along with the Federal Highway Administration to come up with better concrete pavements with appropriate mixes.
Among the PEM program goals is to move away from local standardized pavement mixture specs and find customized materials that reflect a region's climate and environmental exposure while producing a mixture that gives contractors the chance to innovate and find cost effective and long lasting pavements.
Cat Financial reports higher profit in 2019
Cat Financial has announced its 2019 yearly fiscal results, and they are encouraging. Profit came in at $410 million, a 34% increase from 2018 on reported revenue of $2.97 billion — a rise of $119 million over 2018.
Caterpillar has been named 44th in the world as a Fortune 500 most admired company for 2020. It’s the 19th consecutive year that Cat has been included on the list. Cat is also ranked 76 on the top global brand of companies worldwide by Interbrand with a value of $6.7 billion. Just two of many awards lists to the heavy construction machinery manufacturer.
New options to protect coastal cities from storm damage
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has come up with five options for the New York area as protection from sea driven storms. Harking back to Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of the New York and New Jersey shores in 2012, officials are trying to find a solution to sea rise and a barrier solution. Among the ideas is a six-mile-long wall of man-made islands with retractable gates to block the deluge protecting the New York area as storms become more frequent and destructive.
And the estimated cost, $119 billion. The proposals have sparked fierce debate as New York and other coastal cities grapple with the question of what degree it must transform its landscape and lifestyle to cope with rising seas.
GM investing in Detroit factory
General Motors has recently announced plans to spend some $2.2 billion to refurbish an unused Detroit factory. The idea is to build electric cars and self driving vehicles at the plant located between Detroit and Mamtramck. GM has also said it will build its first electric pickup truck to hit the market in 2021. One of its new vehicles will carry the Hummer nameplate.
GM says it expects to hire 2,200 employees for the rebuilt plant that was closed in 2018. It expects to have 1,500 construction workers onsite at the height of the rebuild.
Trade show season underway
It's trade show time again, with a number of sites being utilized for showcasing industry equipment. World of Concrete recently concluded its run at the Las Vegas Convention Center with an anticipated 60,000 attendees. Some 1,500 exhibitors were expected to display their wares geared to the concrete and masonry fields.
Next up in March is Conexpo 2020, expected to draw thousands more contractors as the heavy equipment manufacturers roll out their new models.
In closing, the largest room in the world is the room for improvement.