AASHTO Journal, 21 December 2012
The transportation construction industry should see slight increases in work during 2013, according to a report recently released by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.
The report, “U.S. Transportation Construction Market Forecast 2013,” projects modest growth in 2013 for the transportation construction industry, increasing about three percent from 2012. Specifically, ARTBA projects the market will grow to $130.3 billion, which is up from $126.5 billion in 2012.
Some transportation construction jobs are expected to increase more than others. Roadway pavement, private work (such as driveways and parking lots, for example), airport work (terminals and runways), railroads, and port and waterway construction are expected to see gains in the coming year while work pertaining to bridges is expected to stay flat. The report states that the outlook for bridge construction should be higher in 2014, with more projects scheduled for that time. Subway and light rail construction is also projected to decrease in 2013 by $500 million.
The outlooks for each area vary by state. For example, while the pavement market should grow next year, 25 states are likely to see a slight decrease in construction in this area, the report states. Still, five percent to nine percent growth in this area is expected in 19 states.
Some provisions in the nation’s surface transportation bill, MAP-21, could account for additional growth in the transportation construction industry, the report says. MAP-21 allows for state transportation departments to exercise more flexibility in how they use federal funding, which could mean more highway and bridge investment. Also, the new transportation bill expands the federal Transportation Infrastructure & Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA) program which could also account for additional transportation investment.
One uncertainty that could shift these numbers completely around is the looming fiscal cliff.
“Although the ‘fiscal cliff’ would not directly impact federal highway investment to the states, it could affect state and local finances, and thereby cause governments to pull back or delay projects,” the report states. “Such action in turn would have negative consequences on the highway construction market.”
ARTBA’s 71-page report is available online at bit.ly/ARTBA2013report.