Alternative Delivery

Contractors and owners alike are looking to streamline processes that help combat labor issues, turning to strategies such as lean construction and prefabrication.

"The industry is getting smarter in figuring out ways to combat the labor shortage," Freeman says.

Buescher adds, "We're being brought in a lot earlier, and even transportation infrastructure projects are looking at alternative delivery methods."

The Texas Dept. of Transportation, for example, is using design-build on the State Highway 71 Express Lanes project in Austin, "which is an alternative delivery method for speed," Buescher says. "The city of Fort Worth is now using the construction manager at-risk approach for infrastructure projects, so we're seeing this new trend in the private and public sectors, looking at ways to speed up and be more efficient."

Oil and Gas Prices

The recent collapse in global oil prices could affect the Texas and Louisiana construction markets.

Texas has done a good job in the past 20 years or so in diversifying its cities in terms of what brings in business and revenue, Freeman adds. "I don't think it's going to affect the continued growth that we've seen throughout the state," he says.

Louisiana also has much at stake, with a bevy of projects lined up over the last several years to take advantage of natural gas prices. But with oil's tumble, some investors are taking a step back. In late January, South Africa's Sasol decided to delay the much-anticipated $14-billion natural gas to liquids plant located near Lake Charles, La. However, the current situation isn't deterring all investment. In early February, Live Oak LNG announced plans for a $2-billion natural gas liquefaction and export project near Lake Charles.

"The oil-and-gas market is something we're all keeping a close eye on," Freeman says. "But you really don't know until you know. I'm hearing that it's going to stabilize mid- to late year."