SBE News

Capitol Update 3/15/2024

Construction accepts women, but does it support them?

The US construction workforce is only 10% female, and that proportion falls to 4% on work sites, according to a Lumber survey that points to considerable room for gender progress in the industry. Large majorities of women in construction say they see opportunities for advancement and report acceptance, but point to the need for more gender-friendly and maternity-friendly job sites safety equipment and see room for improvement in workplace culture. Full Story: For Construction Pros

Biden flaunts infrastructure victory, stumps for PRO Act

President Joe Biden used his State of the Union address to champion the CHIPS and Science Act’s contributions to the nation’s semiconductor boom and the 46,000 new projects supported under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. He also stumped for Buy America and the PRO Act. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)   CNN  

New joint-employer rule struck down

The National Labor Relations Board’s contested joint-employer rule has been struck down in federal court for a lack of clarity and over-broad application. The lawsuit filed by the US Chamber of Commerce contended the rule could have led to excessive liability for companies applied to employees who weren’t on their payroll. Full Story: The Construction Broadsheet

New joint-employer rule struck down

The National Labor Relations Board’s contested joint-employer rule has been struck down in federal court for a lack of clarity and over-broad application. The lawsuit filed by the US Chamber of Commerce contended the rule could have led to excessive liability for companies applied to employees who weren’t on their payroll. Full Story: The Construction Broadsheet  

Fed expected to start cutting rates from June

Economists are expecting the Federal Reserve to reduce rates in June as it waits for more data to confirm inflation is sustainably near its 2% target. Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony before lawmakers last week prompted traders to fall in line with projections from Fed officials, having previously expected a rate cut as early as March. Full Story: Reuters  

How small contractors can win a share of big projects

Small contractors stand to benefit from specific provisions in various civil infrastructure programs designed to give smaller enterprises access to grants, according to panelists at the recent New York Build Expo. These are multibillion-dollar projects dominated by giant contractors but with open doors to others, especially those certified as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, as panelists explained. Full Story: Construction Dive  

Calif. governor aims to speed $2B L.A. project

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office says he hopes to save years of construction time by expediting a planned $2 billion mixed-used project in Los Angeles that would add 1,500 homes, 410,000 square feet for offices, a 68-room hotel and other features. It is the third project for which the governor has aimed to expedite litigation stemming from the California Environmental Quality Act. Full Story: Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model)  

Reports: Project planning is down, abandonment is up

Office and health care planning dragged down the nonresidential component of the Dodge Momentum Index in February, but increased plans for education projects helped offset losses in the institutional category. Meanwhile, ConstructConnect reports a sharp recent increase in projects being put on hold or abandoned. Full Story: Dodge Data & Analytics   ConstructConnect

Construction jobs see another monthly increase in Feb.

The construction industry added 23,000 jobs, 12,500 of which were in the heavy and civil engineering sector. February marks the eleventh consecutive increase in construction jobs added, but the numbers would be even better with a wider pool of qualified labor, said Ken Simonson, chief economist at the Associated General Contractors of America. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)

Infrastructure prioritized in proposed Biden budget

The highway obligation limit would be set at $62.1 billion and transit formula funding would come in at $14.3 billion under President Joe Biden’s proposed budget for fiscal 2025. The proposal also calls for $7.22 billion for the US Army Corps of Engineers civil works program and a five-year, $8-billion program to upgrade facilities owned by the Federal Aviation Administration. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)

PPI for final demand rises 0.6% in February; goods increase 1.2%, services advance 0.3%

The Producer Price Index for final demand rose 0.6 percent in February. Prices for final demand goods advanced 1.2 percent, and the index for final demand services moved up 0.3 percent. Prices for final demand advanced 1.6 percent for the 12 months ended in February.

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Report compares nations’ infrastructure project costs

A study commissioned by Boston Consulting Group compares the average cost and timelines of major infrastructure projects across a number of countries. Australia is found to have the highest costs, followed by the US and UK, while France is the best performer in terms of affordable costs and timeliness. Full Story: Construction Briefing

Phoenix leads metros in construction jobs added YOY in Jan.

Nearly two-thirds of major metro areas tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics added construction jobs between January 2023 and January 2024, with the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area leading the way with 10,900 jobs added, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. However, unfilled positions reached a near record high, and AGC is concerned that the Labor Department’s proposed National Apprenticeship System Enhancements rule would inhibit the industry’s workforce growth by limiting opportunities to train new workers. Full Story: Associated General Contractors of America

New alliance to help DOTs prepare EPDs for concrete

The Federal Highway Administration has created a program that will distribute $2 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act to state Departments of Transportation, tribes, Metropolitan Planning Organizations and other agencies to buy low-carbon construction materials for transportation projects. The American Concrete Pavement Association, Iowa State University’s National Concrete Pavement Technology Center and other engineers have formed a consortium to help DOTs and other entities prepare Environmental Product Declarations. Full Story: Department of Transportation   Concrete Products  

How construction in space is nearing reality

The exotic and challenging prospect of construction in space is closer to becoming a reality. Paul Wallet, regional director of Trimble Solutions ME, examines the difficulties to be overcome and the possibilities with the use of 3D printing, autonomous robots and aerial construction.

Full Story: Construction Week  

$3.3B in grants awarded to restore urban connections

Urban communities that were split up by highway projects in past decades now stand to be reconnected with the help of $3.33 billion in new grant awards spread across 132 projects in 40 states. The funding, which comes under the Inflation Reduction Act, is aimed at restoring access within these communities to various opportunities and services. Full Story: Department of Transportation   CNN 

USDOT seeks $4B to fund 14 US transit projects

Funding of $700 million for the $17 billion Hudson Tunnel in New York and New Jersey is the single largest allocation out of $4 billion for fiscal 2025 sought by the US Department of Transportation. The funds would apply to 14 projects across 11 states, with other major allocations to include $500 million for the Transbay Joint Powers Authority’s Transbay Downtown Extension Project in San Francisco and $497 million for the second phase of New York City’s Second Avenue Subway project. Full Story: The Construction Broadsheet

Construction slated for $1.567B Calif. port project

A summer start is planned for a $1.567 billion Pier B construction project at California’s Port of Long Beach. The new on-dock rail support facility provide a direct link to the Alameda Corridor railway while reconfiguring and doubling the the size of the existing rail yard and tripling capacity. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)

$236.9M to help L.A. prepare for 2028 Olympics

Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., has announced $236.9 million is on the way to the Los Angeles area for 17 transportation projects. The biggest recipient will be Los Angeles Metro at $139 million to advance the agency’s “Removing Barriers and Creating Legacy” project in preparation for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Full Story: Pasadena Star-News (Calif.)

$2B Disneyland expansion project advances

The Anaheim, Calif., Planning Commission has approved a proposed $2 billion expansion of Disneyland, although it isn’t publicly known what specific types of construction projects Disney is planning beyond street, sewer and parking upgrades. The plan still must pass an environmental analysis, and the council recommended that clearance for the project. Full Story: The Construction Broadsheet

JV selected for $437M Calif. light rail project

A joint venture of MCM Construction and RailWorks will build the East San Jose Light Rail Extension in California under a $437 million contract. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority was unanimous in its selection for the 2.4-mile project — the final phase of the Capitol Expressway Transit Improvement Project — even though the bid was $122 million over the authority’s estimate due to different inflation calculations. Full Story: Construction Dive

2nd of 4 Klamath River dam removals to proceed

A successful test blast has cleared the way for removal of the Copco No. 1 Dam on the Klamath River in California, the second of four planned removals, according to the Klamath River Renewal Corp. The Copco project will be carried out with repeated drilling, blasting and chipping to begin before the end of spring runoff. Full Story: Lake County News (Lakeport, Calif.)  

$21M design contract awarded for Calif. water plant

A design-build team of Walsh Construction and Brown and Caldwell/Carollo Engineers has won a $21 million contract from the Las Virgenes-Triunfo Joint Powers Authority to complete design plans for an advanced treatment plant in Agoura Hills, Calif. A final prediction of construction costs will be submitted once the design is finished, but the current estimate is $364 million. Full Story: The Acorn (Agoura Hills, Calif.)