Looking back on 2009 there were a few reasons to smile.

Despite a year that saw the industry�s new job rate fall to the lowest it has been in a decade, 2009 wasn�t all bad.

Which is why we�re showcasing the top 25 project starts of last year. Basically, if the project broke ground in 2009, it was eligible to be on this list. We took submissions from firms all across the region and across all sectors, while also cross-referencing with our own database, the McGraw-Hill Construction Network, and came up with a list of more than 100 �major� projects in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that broke ground in 2009. Once we confirmed the official project costs with owners and contractors, we were able to rank them from largest to smallest, eventually winding up with a list of the region�s top 25 big-ticket starts.

The projects populating this year�s rankings are decidedly different than in years past. Gone are the grand sporting stadiums and breathtaking residential and commercial towers that have dominated these pages in previous years. The 2009 list is laden with public projects, massive mass-transit jobs, sweeping highway improvements and major bridge rehabilitations.

The good news is that last year circumstances (most of them stemming from the gloom and doom economic picture) prevented us from even putting together a list of 25. This year we had to make cuts from the list to whittle down to 25. We like to look at that as an ever-so-subtle sign that the ice is thawing ever-so-slowly.

While the list may not be as glamorous as it has been throughout the last decade, we�re excited to unveil this year�s batch of major projects that will shape the region - and employ the hard workers of our industry - for years to come.

All 25 Project Features can be accessed from left under Related Links box.