Megaprojects Again Dominate Regional Top Starts List
Megaprojects broke ground aplenty across Texas and Louisiana during 2019. The top 25 project starts in the region, which also includes Arkansas, Mississippi and Oklahoma, represent a whopping $43.43 billion in work, nearly double the $23 billion total for 2018’s largest 25 projects.
Seven of the top 10 projects on this year’s ranking are energy related. All 10 are valued above $1 billion.
Tied for first at $10 billion were two ExxonMobil-led projects: Golden Pass Liquefied Natural Gas Facility in Sabine Pass, Texas, and Gulf Coast Growth Ventures Petrochemical Ethylene Plant in Gregory, Texas.
Golden Pass will have the capacity to produce around 16 million tons of LNG per year upon completion in 2024.
Gulf Coast Growth Ventures is a joint venture between ExxonMobil and SABIC, and the project includes an ethane steam cracker, two polyethylene units and a monoethylene glycol unit, with start-up expected by 2022.
The largest projects to break ground in Louisiana last year were the $5.8-billion Calcasieu Pass Cameron LNG Export Facility in Cameron, which will produce 10 million tons per year, and the $1.49-billion Shintech New Chlor Alkali & Vinyl Chloride Monomer Project in Plaquemine, which includes construction of a new chlor alkali and vinyl chloride monomer production facility and expansion of existing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) manufacturing facilities.
Transportation projects were again among the region’s top jobs, with the Texas Dept. of Transportation’s $1.7-billion IH 635 E project in Dallas County coming in as the sixth-largest project. Work includes the full reconstruction and widening of about 11 miles of I-635, from US 75 to I-30, including the I-30 interchange.
Meanwhile, Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s light rail project, the $1.24-billion Cotton Belt “Silver Line” Rail Corridor, came in at eighth. When complete in July 2022, the 26-mile Cotton Belt Corridor will extend from DFW Airport to Shiloh Road in Plano, traversing through seven cities in the greater Dallas area.
Rounding out the top 10 are two $1-billion projects: the Midship Natural Gas Pipeline—Oklahoma’s largest project on this year’s ranking—which includes 200 miles of 36-in.-dia pipeline that will begin in Kingfisher County, Okla., and end near Bennington, Okla., and Apple’s new Austin campus, which will span 3 million sq ft and initially house 5,000 employees when complete in 2022, with the capacity to grow to 15,000.
Also underway in Austin is the Texas Facilities Commission’s Texas State Capitol Complex—a nearly $900-million effort that will create a destination that celebrates the Capitol and centralize all state agencies. Two of the projects included under the scope of the $581-million first phase are among 2019’s top project starts. At 36th is the $200-million George HW Bush State Office Building, and rounding out the ranking at 55th is the $108.6-million 1601 Congress Avenue State Office Building. For this effort, ENR Texas & Louisiana has selected the Texas Facilities Commission as its 2020 Owner of the Year (see p. 18).
Two Arkansas projects pulled within the top 40 for the first time since ENR Texas & Louisiana began coverage of the state. Ranked 35th is the $200-million Southland Gaming & Racing Casino & Hotel in West Memphis, which includes an expansion of Southland Gaming and Racing Park, a new casino complex and a 20-story, 300-room hotel. At 38th is the single-largest contract ever awarded by the Arkansas Highway Commission—the $187.3-million widening of 5.5 miles of Interstate 30 in Saline County, which is expected to be complete in late 2022.
As of ENR press time, it remains unclear how many of the projects represented on this ranking will be delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.