Dodge Momentum Index increases 2.9% in September

The Dodge Momentum Index, compiled by McGraw Hill Construction, increased 2.9% in September and is up 31% since the end of 2012. The index is a monthly measure of the first, or initial, reports for non-residential building projects in planning, which is a proven leading indicator of construction activity by a full year. "The acceleration of the index suggests that, as of September, owners and developers viewed the environment for construction as improving," says MHC. But all the gain comes from private commercial building, which was up 8.5%. Institutional building was down 2.5%.

CH2M Hill Awarded Navy Yard Repair Job and DOE Site Rebid

A unit of CH2M Hill Cos. on Sept. 30 won a $6.4-million fixed-price contract from the U.S. Navy to repair and restore the Naval Sea Systems Command building at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. The site sustained extensive damage in the Sept. 16 shooting that killed 12 people, including a Naval Facilities Engineering Command employee and contractor. The firm will make immediate safety repairs, conduct detailed damage assessments and develop alternative concept designs for the historic structure. Originally built in the 19th century, it was converted in the past 20 years into office facilities for 3,000 employees.

Another CH2M Hill unit on Sept. 26 won a $2.1-billion, five-year extension of a 2008 contract to clean up soil and groundwater within the central plateau area of the U.S. Energy Dept.'s Hanford nuclear-waste site in Washington state.

Hydraulic Issues Blamed in NYC Building's Latest Crane Mishap

Hydraulic issues are behind the latest mishap at a midtown Manhattan residential construction site, where a tower crane carrying a 13,000-lb load got stuck in midair on Oct. 7, officials say. The 800-ft crane working at the West 57th Street luxury tower was carrying a concrete balancing block and being removed when its hoisting equipment had "hydraulic issues," says a spokesman for construction manager Lend Lease. He did not provide further details. The block dangled about 400 ft above ground for several hours before it was manually lowered without incident. The New York City Dept. of Buildings has issued a partial stop-work order at the site.

Last October, high winds from Superstorm Sandy caused a 1,000-ft crane at the site to partially collapse and dangle because the lift did not "weathervane," or rotate properly, in the wind.

Construction Unemployment Data Canceled by Fed Shutdown

Construction-industry employment data for September is not available because of the federal government shutdown. Before the shutdown began, the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an agency of the U.S. Labor Dept., showed construction's unemployment rate falling to 9.1% in August, down from 11.3% in August 2012. "Depending on how long the government is closed, construction workers are likely to miss out on new job opportunities," says Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America.