Source: Associated Builders and Contractors, Construction Backlog Indicator
Average backlog dropped to 8.1 months, according to the ABC's CBI.

ABC Sees Solid Q2 Trends

The Associated Builders and Contractors' Construction Backlog Indicator declined 2.8% during the first quarter of this year. The quarterly drop left the CBI with an average backlog of 8.1 months, down from 8.3 months during the previous quarter but up from 7.9 months a year ago, according to ABC. The CBI reflects the amount of commercial and industrial construction work under contract but not yet completed.

"Despite a decline in overall backlog during the first quarter of the year, only one in three industry segments, commercial-institutional, saw a decrease in backlogs," says Anirban Basu, ABC chief economist. "However, second-quarter business spending appears to be on the rise. Many companies are flush with cash, and confidence is improving."

SEC Rules Covering Muni Client Finance Advice Now in Effect

Final federal rules that now require municipal financial consultants to register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission include exemptions for engineering advice such as feasibility studies, project revenue projections and cash-flow modeling, but there may still be gray areas in capital program finance advice, Washington, D.C.-based securities attorney Amy N. Kroll told ENR on July 8. The final rules, which are part of the Dodd-Frank financial-services reform law, took effect July 1, in response to past municipal finance abuses.

While the rules being phased in through October don't require registration for consultants that provide municipalities with certain market and revenue projections on securities-backed projects, engineers' advice on how to structure or time the issuance of those securities would be outside the exemption, says the SEC.

Oregon To Replace FRP Deck Just Two Years After Installation

Multnomah County, Ore., decided it will spend $7.3 million to replace fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) decking panels installed on a $4.2-million project that was completed in 2012 on Portland's Morrison Bridge. After installation, the lift-span deck almost immediately showed "signs of failure," according to Multnomah County. An investigation confirmed that panels were deteriorating and loosening to the point of flapping, as cars drove over the deck that replaced a 53-year-old open-steel-grating lift span.

A July 2 decision declared the panels, installed by Conway Construction, Ridgefield, Wash., and made by North Carolina-based ZellComp as "defective and cannot be effectively repaired." The county has hired David Evans & Associates to design either an open-steel-grating deck or a solid aluminum deck. The design decision will come in late 2014.

World Bank Increased Its Infrastructure Financing by 60%

The World Bank stepped up its infrastructure financing significantly, providing an estimated $24 million in fiscal 2014, a 60% jump from its 2013 total. The bank says that infrastructure is "critical for job creation and future productivity." Infrastructure financing also represented about 40% of total World Bank 2014 commitments. Overall, the bank says its 2014 commitments totaled $61 billion, a 16% increase over 2013.