SBE News

Capitol Update 4/12/2024

Inflation rise in March dims rate cut hopes

Stubborn inflation persisted into March with a 3.5% rise in consumer prices, dampening expectations for a Federal Reserve rate cut as early as June, despite core inflation also exceeding forecasts. Futures markets are now pricing in one or two quarter point cuts this year, compared to expectations of up to seven at the start of 2024. Full Story: The Wall Street Journal   CNBC   Bloomberg  Financial Times  

Industrial construction starts are trailing off

New industrial construction starts totaling 341.9 million square feet last year were down more than 40% from 2022 after a four-year surge powered by demand during the pandemic, and the downward trend has continued into this year, according to software provider CommercialEdge. Looking ahead, Cushman & Wakefield expects the trend will be extended through 2024, even with the current boom in manufacturing construction. Full Story: Construction Dive

PPI for final demand rises 0.2% in March; services increase 0.3%, goods decline 0.1%

The Producer Price Index for final demand rose 0.2 percent in March. Prices for final demand services advanced 0.3 percent, and the index for final demand goods edged down 0.1 percent. Prices for final demand increased 2.1 percent for the 12 months ended in March.

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CPI for all items rose 0.4% in March; shelter and gasoline up

In March, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, and rose 3.5 percent over the last 12 months, not seasonally adjusted. The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.4 percent in March (SA); up 3.8 percent over the year (NSA).

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How Baltimore bridge collapse is affecting supply chain

A third temporary shipping channel will be opened around the wreckage of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, but the channels will serve only shallow-draft vessels. However, a port reopening is believed to be at least a month away, and a report from Interact Analysis predicts longer import delivery times and increased delivery costs and prices for some off-highway machinery. Full Story: For Construction Pros   Equipment World

OSHA publishes finalized rule on inspections

OSHA has finalized a rule regarding employee representation during inspections that allows employees to select a representative to accompany federal inspectors during workplace inspections, even if the workplace does not have a union. The representative can be a fellow employee, a union representative or any other person chosen by the employees. Full Story: CleanLink 

3-row pile structure an option for tall construction

In urban projects with complex geology or demanding engineering, more than double-row pile structure may be required for tall construction deep foundation pits. A new three-row pile structure can serve well, as Samudrapom Dam explains, though more research is required. Full Story: AZoBuild

Watchdog: FHWA guidance on federal funding is lacking

An audit found that state transportation departments are not getting the guidance they need from the Federal Highway Administration, which may lead to higher project costs and federal funding goals not being achieved. The Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General sampled cases from three states and found that FHWA guidance was delivered either too late, only after several months or was still pending. Full Story: Construction Dive

Gilbane CIO urges collective cybersecurity effort

The very open nature of the internet makes it inherently insecure, something that contractors need to take seriously to achieve cybersecurity, according to Karen Higgins-Carter, chief information and digital officer for Gilbane Building. Higgins-Carter reflects on the nature of the ongoing cyber “[W]e can have a collective voice as an industry and help those software vendors reach a higher level of capability,” says Higgins-Carter. Full Story: Construction Dive  

Major productivity gains possible with AI

AI is poised to give the construction industry a boost for its lagging performance improving productivity, with AI applications offering a wide array of solutions. John Bleasby explores the possibilities — many related to labor shortages — and challenges, including a lack of needed digital skills for AI adoption. Full Story: Daily Commercial News (Ontario)  

EPA finalizes drinking water standards for PFAS

The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized the nation’s first standards for certain PFAS in drinking water. EPA estimates compliance will cost the sector between $772 million and $1.2 billion annually, but the American Water Works Association puts the price tag higher at about $3.8 billion per year. Full Story: The Hill   Bloomberg Law  The Associated Press

JFC takes top honor in AGC safety excellence awards

The Associated General Contractors of America has recognized Jordan Foster Construction for having the nation’s top construction safety and health program in 2023. The company was one of 21 first-place winners across six occupational divisions for AGC’s Construction Safety Excellence Awards. Full Story: Construction Briefing  

Renewable-energy plant planned in Elk Grove, Calif.

Renewable-energy operator Ameresco announced plans to begin development and construction soon on an integrated 13.4-megawatt co-generation plant near Elk Grove, Calif. The plan calls for contracting with the Sacramento Area Sewer District on the biogas facility, which is expected to be completed in 2026. Full Story: The Sacramento Bee (Calif.) (tiered subscription model)

L.A. Metro line extension tunneling finished

After five years, boring is finished on the third and last tunnel section of the $9.5 billion D Line Subway Extension Project, “one of the most complex engineering feats that Metro has undertaken,” said Lindsey Horvath, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Metro board member. With that work complete, joint-venture contractors Skanska-Traylor-Shea and Tutor-Perini/O&G can continue building seven new underground stations. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)