Several megaprojects helped to boost by 21% the dollar value of total construction starts in August. However, on a year-to-date basis, total construction starts through the first eight months of this year are running 7% behind the same period of last year, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. New non-residential building starts were up 42% for the month, largely based on a $3-billion petrochemical plant in Louisiana, the $1.7-billion Wynn Casino in Boston and a $508-million terminal upgrade at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Non-building construction also was lifted by the start of a $3-billion natural-gas pipeline in the Southeast. “The sharp rise in August makes it likely that the third quarter will see moderate growth, supporting the belief that the construction industry still has room for further expansion,” says Robert Murray, chief economist for Dodge. “The year-to-date readings are skewed by comparison to the first half of 2015, which included 13 projects valued at $1 billion or more,” Murray notes.