Market Outlook

AGC Sees 2012 Funds Up for Education, Down for Highway

Construction contractors see a mixed picture for 2012, says a Jan. 23 Associated General Contractors survey of 1,300 members. About 34% of respondents foresee more demand for higher-education-related construction, but 40% say highway funding will fall and 38% say the dollar volume of public-buildings work will decline. Even so, 32% of firms say they plan to add jobs in 2012, and only 9% foresee layoffs. Last year, 37% said they cut payroll. AGC says the number of new positions "are likely to be modest at best." Most firms say the squeeze between higher materials prices and a tough bidding environment will continue.

High-Speed Rail

CH2M Hill Tapped To Advise On $26.5-Billion Line in England

HS2, the British government-owned firm in charge of a 225-mile high-speed-rail line between London and Birmingham, England, has selected CH2M Hill Cos., Denver, and its recently acquired U.K.-based Halcrow unit as its development partner. HS2 is preparing the $26.5-billion project to begin its legislative approval process late next year. The firm was chosen from among three other shortlisted bidders: New York City-based Parsons Brinckerhoff, Turner & Townsend Ltd., London, and a London-based consortium of Mace Group, WS Atkins plc and KPMG Ltd. Despite environmental objections, the government decided this month to push ahead with HS2. The line is set for completion by about 2026.

Building Codes

Pennsylvania Reviewers Nix Bulk of 2012 Model Codes

The Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council has recommended that the state not adopt the 2012 I-Codes, a group of model building codes published by the International Code Council (ICC). The only exception is the accessibility portion of the 2012 model code. As a result, the 2009 edition of ICC's family of codes will remain the basis for the state's uniform construction code. That means the state has not adopted the ICC's new "green building" model code, called the International Green Construction Code. The state code also does not include any other standards updated since ICC's 2009 development cycle. Lawrence G. Spielvogel, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting engineer, says the new codes "are too complicated, too expensive to comply with and impossible to enforce."

Alternative Energy

New York Project Wins First FERC License for Tidal Power

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Jan. 23 issued its first-ever pilot project license for a tidal energy project: the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project in New York City's East River. It will use tidal currents to generate electricity. When built out, the system will have a capacity of 1 MW. The 10-year license allows project developer Verdant Power Inc., New York City, to install up to 30 turbines in stages. When the project is complete, it will be tied to the city's grid. Verdant President Trey Taylor says utilities such as Con Edison and New York Power Authority may buy the project's power. Other entities also are seeking tidal power approval (see story, p. 16).


Ex-New York Official Chris Ward Now Is Dragados USA Exec VP

Christopher Ward, who left in October as executive director of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, started work on Jan. 18 as executive vice president of Dragados USA, the New York City-based unit of Spanish contractor Dragados, a Dragados USA official confirms. Ward says he will abstain from the firm's intended bid to the port authority on a planned upgrade of the aging Goethals bridge, according to a published report.