A case challenging the patentability of business methods will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in December. The outcome may rock innovators and inventors in the construction industry. Bilski v. Doll is Bernard Bilski’s last appeal. Doll is John Doll, acting director of the U.S. patent office, which has rejected Bilski’s patent for a method to hedge risks in commodities trading. The case would normally be a far cry from construction, except the language of the most recent rejection, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in October, added a new bar for any business-method patent
A federal district judge has issued a ruling that creates a significant setback for the state of Georgia in the ongoing water wars among Florida, Georgia and Alabama. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson, from the District of Minnesota, on July 17 ruled Georgia must stop using water from Lake Lanier to meet Atlanta’s drinking-water needs within three years unless Congress permits it. He also ruled withdrawals over the next three years must be frozen at current levels. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) called the ruling a “monumental milestone....The judge’s decision allows the governors to come together to reach an agreement
As fiscal 2010 spending bills advance on Capitol Hill, water infrastructure programs look like big winners. The House’s 2010 bill for the U.S. Interior Dept. and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency passed on June 26 includes $5.2 billion for EPA water grants, a 76% jump from 2009’s mark. It also includes $2.3 billion for state clean-water spending, more than triple this year’s level, and $1.4 billion for state drinking-water funding, up 74%. The version the Senate Appropriations Committee cleared on June 25 is less generous but still well above 2009 totals. The measure recommends $4.95 billion for EPA water grants, including
A move by a Hawaii Democratic congressman to insert labor provisions into the House version of the 2010 military spending bill that would affect Guam's multibillion-dollar troop redeployment facility expansion program is raising concern among U.S. officials and potential contractors about big cost impacts. Photo: CDM DOD-funded projects would pay Hawaii wage rates. The bill, enacted late last month, includes language added by Rep. Neil Abercrombie, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. It would require contractors involved in the estimated $15-billion Guam military facility expansion to pay construction workers prevailing wages equivalent to those paid in Hawaii, and
Efforts to develop a magnetic levitation train system between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area could be affected by a pact between California and Nevada to extend a high-speed rail corridor between the cities. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Nevada Sen Harry Reid (D) announced the deal on July 2. Reid had endorsed high-speed rail over maglev in June. The pact calls for an 184-mile route from Las Vegas to Victorville, Calif., with speeds of up to 150 miles per hour. Maglev has operated in excess of 250 miles per hour in Europe and Asia. Reid says the
Top GOP lawmakers told open-shop advocates they face an uphill battle on Capitol Hill. At the Associated Builders and Contractors’ legislative conference on June 25, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) raised concerns about the outlook for the Employee Free Choice Act, which ABC and other opponents call the “card check” bill. When Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) switched to the Democratic party in April, he vowed to oppose the bill. But McConnell doubts Specter will keep that promise and thinks the GOP needs at least two Democrats to block the bill. House GOP Leader John Boehner (Ohio) called the American
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to revise rules governing nitrogen-dioxide air emissions, the first new NO2 standards in more than 35 years. The June 26 proposal includes a new one-hour standard of 80 to 100 parts per billion and would add monitoring for NO2 within 50 meters of major roads in cities with populations of 350,000 or more. EPA would keep the present annual average standard at 53 ppb.
With a multibillion-dollar hole expected to appear in the Highway Trust Fund in August, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has boosted his estimate of how much the repair will cost. LaHood has picked up support in the Senate for his proposed legislative vehicle, an 18-month extension of the current highway-transit law, which lapses on Sept. 30. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders back a different plan, a six-year highway and transit bill, which cleared subcommittee on June 24. Lawmakers, state agencies and construction companies are waiting anxiously to see how the trust-fund remedy will be financed. Photo: Utah Department of Transportation
The Dept. of Energy has announced final regulations that set higher efficiency standards for residential and commercial lighting. The rules, issued June 26, apply to general-service fluorescent lamps (GSFLs) and incandescent reflector lamps (IRLs), which together account for about 45% of total lighting-energy use, DOE says. Under the rules, which take effect in 2012, electricity used in GSFLs would be cut by 15% and 25% in IRLs DOE says the cost of the more efficient lamps would be as much as 13 times higher than current GSFL products’ prices and 47% to 64% higher than current IRL prices. But it
Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority has settled in full with the insurers of URS Corp., San Francisco, for $74.75 million in claims for the 2004 collapse of a section of elevated highway during construction. Three piers sank under a 140-ft post-tensioned section in April 2004 on the 9-mile-long Reversible Express Lanes project. One of them sank 11 ft and the others a few inches, says Sue Chrzan, Authority spokeswoman. The mediated agreement was reached without determining a cause of the collapse. FIGG Engineering Group, Tallahassee, Fla., designed the box-girder structure, and the Authority will receive $750,000 previously escrowed for claims resolved with
A contractor in Liverpool is set to tear down the Churchill Way viaduct by the end of the year, one of the most dramatic consequences of a new U.K. inspection regime of post-tensioned concrete bridges that emerged from the rubble of collapses nearly 30 years ago.