ENR Art Dept.
Industry has struggled with six years of double digit unemployment.



Employment Picture Improves

Construction's unemployment rate fell in February, to 17.1% from January's 17.8%, and it was much better than February 2011's 21.8% level, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. BLS also says, however, that the industry lost 13,000 jobs last month. The bureau reports that construction's jobless rate has showed year-over-year improvement for 17 consecutive months. On the downside, the industry is also suffering its sixth consecutive year of double-digit unempoyment.

Massachusetts Proposes New $1.5-Billion Transportation Bond

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's (D) administration on March 6 requested lawmakers approve a one-year, $1.5-billion bond transportation bill for maintenance of state roads, bridges and rail transportation projects. The measure would authorize the state to borrow up to $885 million and leverage federal funds. It is expected to help with the $20-billion maintenance backlog. The bill provides $200 million in state funds to cities and towns to rebuild and repair local roads and bridges. It also creates a state infrastructure bank to leverage private investment to finance energy, transportation and municipal development projects.

Land Court Ruling Clears Path For Fenway Center Project

A ruling on March 5 by Massachusetts Land Court Judge Harry Grossman has cleared the way to secure financing and begin construction by year's end of the $450-million Fenway Center project over the Massachusetts Turnpike in Boston, says John Rosenthal, president of real estate developer Meredith Management. Located next to the famous Fenway Park, the 1.3-million-sq-ft mixed-use project will comprise a 27-story office and residential tower, 500 residences, and office and retail space on 4.5 acres. Meredith is also developing and constructing a new $13.5-million net-zero MBTA train station. It will be powered by a private solar powerplant that Meredith is building in the complex. Rosenthal says he is optimistic that Newton-based HRPT Medical Buildings Realty Trust will not appeal, since the judge threw out the zoning challenge and ruled for the city, finding no basis for a trial. HRPT could not be reached for comment on whether it plans to file an appeal.

Israel OKs $12 Billion To Boost Rail Project in Tel Aviv

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved a massive expansion of the planned Tel Aviv mass transit project. The target is to complete the entire system by 2025, five years earlier than originally scheduled. Initial estimates put the cost at $11 billion to $12 billion. The system includes one rail line under construction and another now set to begin in 2013. Several other planned routes will be bus rapid-transit lines, but officials may switch them to light rail. Much of the system is likely to be built underground so that it can serve as a huge shelter in case of a missile attack. Several large tenders for tunneling are set to be issued.