Dodge Momentum Index Up 5.8% Over January 2014's Level

The Dodge Momentum Index posted a monthly decline of 4.8% this January but is still 5.8% higher than January 2014's level, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The index measures non-residential building projects entering the planning stage and is a lead indicator of construction spending by a full year. January's monthly decline reflects a 10.2% drop in planning for new institutional buildings and a 0.4% slip in commercial-building planning. Despite the decline, three commercial and four institutional building projects exceeding $100 million entered the planning stage in January.

Delays in Nuke Project Could Add $720 Million to Total Costs

Responsibility for an estimated $720 million in new project completion costs of two nuclear units at the Plant Vogtle expansion project in Waynesboro, Ga., because of a previously announced 18-month delay (see story, p. 20) will likely be litigated between project owner Southern Co. and contractors Westinghouse Electric Co. and Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. In Southern's Feb. 6 earnings call, Jamie Cook, Credit Suisse lead construction-sector analyst, noted that the utility was seeking $240 million from the contractors. She added that CB&I refutes the claims, which the contractor blames on design changes. Southern estimated capital costs at $10 billion last June. The revised schedule, while not yet accepted, would push back unit start-up to mid-2019 and mid-2020, respectively.

New York City Housing Fraud And Bribery Scheme Indictments

On Feb. 10, New York City District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and Police Commissioner William J. Bratton announced the indictment of 50 defendants for alleged housing fraud and bribery schemes in three boroughs. They include 11 from the Dept. of Buildings and five from the Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development. They are charged with crimes including bribery, receiving bribes, falsifying business records, tampering with public records and official misconduct. The probe revealed evidence of $450,000 in alleged bribes involving 22 property managers and owners, two contractors and an engineer in exchange for allegedly clearing stop- work orders for expediting inspections and more.

Groups Combine To Improve Building Environments

ASHRAE and the Indoor Air Quality Association are becoming one organization. The consolidation will allow the groups to combine resources to improve indoor air quality in the built environment. Under the move, IAQA will operate independently as part of ASHRAE, maintaining its own board of directors. IAQA, established in 1995, has 2,600 members in the U.S. and Canada. ASHRAE, the former American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air- Conditioning Engineers has more than 50,000 members worldwide.