John Barton, Texas Dept. of Transportation deputy executive director and chief engineer, says while contracting for fiscal year 2013 is up because of an increase in state bond programs, finding funding for projects is still a challenge.
"A minimum of $6 billion a year statewide is needed to address mobility and slow down highway deterioration," he says. "Right now, only $2.8 billion is available for the next three years." According to Barton, "The good news is Texas has a history of funding transportation and placing high priority on the maintenance and safety of the state's roadways. We are maximizing tools the Legislature has given us, such as cooperative development agreements that have successfully helped us deliver megaprojects in heavily congested areas."
Barton adds that fiscal 2012 expenditures for construction and maintenance were $3.9 billion, compared with $4 billion for the previous fiscal year. Total bidding in fiscal 2012 was $3.7 billion, compared with $4.4 billion in fiscal 2011. But projected fiscal 2013 expenditures for construction and maintenance are up to $5 billion, while total bid letting in that financial year is projected to be about $7.2 billion.
Looking at other sectors in Texas, multifamily construction is expected to slip by 1% in 2013, although single family building will increase by 22% in 2013, according to the Dodge forecast.
Education is also getting a boost. In November, Houston voters approved a $1.9-billion bond referendum by the city's Independent School District, the largest for a state school district in 25 years, said one published report. The funds will be used to rebuild and renovate 38 schools, although property taxes will rise by 1 cent in 2014 and up to 5 cents by 2017.
Houston Community College also will expand facilities with passage of its $425-million funding measure. A similar amount passed in a separate measure to expand and renovate municipal facilities in Houston. "So you're looking at about $2.7 billion in bonds," says Jerry Nevlud, president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors Houston Chapter.
While Texas has been booming, Louisiana's growth has been a lot slower. However, many of the same issues affecting Texas—such as the health care bill—are also expected to have an impact on its eastern neighbor.
Sector-by-sector, McGraw-Hill Dodge forecasts that electric utility work will drop 97% and manufacturing will slide by 23% in 2013. But it also contends that public works will rise 16%, commercial will grow by 41%, institutional will climb 17%, multifamily will head up 43% and single family will increase 41%.
On the transportation front, the Louisiana Dept. of Transportation and Development has seen increased stimulus funds in recent years that have reduced the backlog of projects. In fiscal 2012, the agency spent $705.8 million on construction projects, and in fiscal 2013, it anticipates spending $657 million, says department Secretary Sherri H. LeBas. "Most projects are 80% federal, although some bonding of non-federal aid routes as well as dedicated funding streams will bolster the overall construction budget," she says.