Housing Keeps Construction Starts Above 2012's Level

The strong rebound in the housing market nudged total construction starts 1% above 2012's level. Total construction starts through the first seven months of this year totaled $281.7 billion, including $117.7 billion from a 29% increase in residential construction, according to McGraw-Hill Construction's latest Dodge starts data. The overall market continues to be dampened by year-to-year declines of 3% for non-residential buildings starts and a drop of 22% in non-building starts, including highways.

Cost Overruns and Delays Threaten $4.13-Billion Project

According to an internal report made public by the Washington State Dept. of Transportation, the $4.13-billion Highway 520 bridge replacement project could not only eat up its entire $250-million contingency fund this year but also go an additional $128 million in the red—all while the opening of the complete rebuild of the world's longest floating bridge gets pushed back more than a year, until spring 2016. Julie Meredith, the 520 program director, claims "pending and potential change-order issues" for this year could total over $228 million beyond the $150 million already spent from the fund, changes the state is negotiating with Kiewit, the lead contractor for the floating bridge. Most costs stem from an in-house design flaw that resulted in cracking of the first four pontoons, requiring in-water fixes and a complete reworking of the pontoon construction scheme.

Specification for Details on BIM Content and Detail Released

The BIMForum of the Associated General Contractors says its 124-page level-of-development specification for aid in creating a building information model, released late last month, is not too different from the draft released in the spring, except the mechanical-electrical-plumbing sections have been beefed up. The document sets guidelines, which can be agreed upon by members of a building team during contract talks or planning stages, for how complete a model needs to be during different stages of design and construction. The spec was created under an agreement with the American Institute of Architects. It is available for download, free of charge, at http://bimforum.org/.

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Opened on Sept. 2

After a low-key ceremony, the new eastern span of the $6.4-billion San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge finally opened to traffic on Sept. 2. Completed 24 years after part of the old bridge collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake, the new bridge endured cost overruns and delays. But structural safety concerns put the bridge's Labor Day opening in doubt, following the revelation that numerous steel bolts had failed during tensioning. American Bridge/Fluor Joint Venture will continue construction on a permanent bolt fix through the end of this year. Temporary shims were installed around four bearings in the east pier to allow the bridge to open and to prevent longitudinal and transverse movement if an earthquake occurs.