The U.S. transportation construction market will grow 3.1% from $185.9 billion in 2014 to $191.7 billion in 2015, according to a new forecast released Dec. 3 by American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black.
That figure is slightly above anticipated growth in the overall economy, Black says. U.S. Gross Domestic Product is expected to grow between 2.6% and 3%, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The ARTBA forecast for the largest segment of this market—highway, street and related work—is tempered by two key factors: uncertainty over long-term federal funding, which represents 52% of state department of transportation (DOT) capital outlays; and still recovering state and local budgets.
Outside of construction, state and local governments are expected to spend an additional $38.5 billion for maintenance work; $13.2 billion for in-house and consultant planning and design services; and $7 billion for right-of-way purchases as part of their highway and bridge programs.
By infrastructure mode, forecast highlights in Black’s report includes the following market types.
Highways, Private Driveways, Parking Lot Construction
The construction market for highways, streets and related work, private driveways and commercial parking lots will grow to $64.9 billion, up 2.1% from $63.5 billion in 2014.
• This includes 1.2% growth in highway, street and related work, from $51.8 billion in 2014 to $52.4 billion in 2015. To put this market in perspective, the amount of work completed in 2009 was $67.3 billion.
• The market is expected to be uneven across the country, with highway investment up in 24 states, down in 19 states and Washington, D.C., and within a plus-minus 5% in seven states.
• Approval of more than $17 billion for transportation investment through legislative and ballot measures in 2014 will help support the market in the coming years. State legislatures approved 14 measures in 2014 to increase investment, while voters approved 79% of the ballot measures.
• The public-private partnerships (P3s) market will also support new growth in 2015, with four states awarding their first highway P3 projects (Colo., N.C., Ohio, and Pa.), earlier this year.
• Contractors will have an additional $30 billion-$40 billion in business opportunities from private highway and bridge work that is completed as part of housing developments and larger commercial structures, separate from parking lots and driveways.
Bridges and Tunnels
Record growth is expected to continue in the bridge and tunnel construction market, increasing from $30.8 billion in 2014 to $31.3 billion in 2015.
• The national market is being driven by activity in 10 states, which account for over 57% of the market: N.Y., Calif., Texas, Pa., N.J., Wash., Ill., Ohio, Mass. and Va.
• Bridge construction has grown from 19.6% of all highway and bridge work in 2000 to 37.3% in 2014. ARTBA says that the share of bridge work will continue growing in the next five years.
Light Rail, Subways and Railroads