Dodge Momentum Index Slows

The McGraw Hill Construction's Dodge Momentum Index posted only a modest 0.2% monthly increase in August, which follows a 5.7% decline in July. Despite the recent setback, the index remains 13.9% above a year ago and continues to point to recovery in the sector, says Dodge. In August, the index was supported by a 5% increase in institutional building plans, while a 3% drop in commercial plans restrained further growth. The index measures non-residential building projects that have entered the planning stage and is a proven leading indicator of future building activity by a full year, says Dodge.

Balfour Beatty Seeks Help As It Battles Profit Drain

London-based contractor Balfour Beatty plc. reported on Sept. 29 another $122-million profit shortfall this year for its U.K. operations. The company has ceased bidding for major contracts in London, southwest England and Wales, sites of problematic projects. Balfour Beatty has called in financial consultant KPMG to review its U.K. contracting strategy, aiming for a report by year's end. The new warning follows two others issued by the company in May and July and a total of five since 2012. The new shortfalls relate to 25 contracts, of which 40% are in mechanical and electrical services; the rest are spread between large buildings in and around London, some regional work and some major infrastructure projects.

Dispute Escalates Over World's Tallest Modular Building

The battle over the stalled Atlantic Yards B2 BKLYN apartment project, sited in New York City and planned as the world's tallest modular tower at 32 stories, escalated on Sept. 23. That day, New York State Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla ordered the joint venture of Forest City Ratner Co. and Skanska USA Building Inc. to resolve its business differences over the factory for the project's modular units. Skanska has terminated its $117-million construction-management and fabrication services agreement for the job with Forest City Ratner. Also on Sept. 23, the judge denied the relief motion, requested by Forest City, to force Skanska back to work on the project for both the factory and field portions of the job. In August, Skanska stopped work on the project, which currently stands at only 10 stories. Both parties have filed suits.

Long Courtship Ends as Bentley Buys Site Options Analyzer

Software firm Bentley Systems Inc. has acquired Blueridge Analytics Inc., the provider of SITEOPS, a cloud-based site development options analyzer. Subscribers upload digital terrain models and enter requirements in terms of square footage of finished floor space, parking needs, setbacks, roadway parameters and a host of other constraints, and then submit the project for analysis. The system weighs thousands of alternatives and "solves" for the most cost-efficient site design. The purchase comes four years after Bentley took an equity stake in the company. Says CEO Greg Bentley, "I've become convinced that site engineering should no longer be done any other way."