Federal, State, and Local Governments Are Moving to Upgrade Infrastructure
The American Road and Transportation Builder’s Association (ARTBA) is projecting at least 5% growth in the transportation infrastructure construction sector in 2020, according to the ARTBA annual report. In their December 2019 press release, ARTBA’s chief economist, Dr. Alison Premo Black stated:
“The real market growth for 2020 is being fueled by increased transportation investments from federal, state and local governments.”
According to the ARTBA analysts, domestic transportation construction and related market activity are slated to reach $300.4 billion in 2020, easily passing the $286.5 billion mark set in 2019.
This will continue a lucrative trend of growth seen in 2019 when the transportation construction market grew by 8% over the 2018 totals.
Public Highways, Streets, and Pavement
Significant gains in highway, street, and pavement work were the primary contributors with growth in 2019 totaling $9.6 billion to reach a new peak of $73.1 billion for that transportation sub-sector alone. More of the same is anticipated for the sector in 2020, if Congress, literally, can take care of business in the transportation infrastructure sector.
Dr. Black noted that delays for reauthorization of the expiring Obama-era FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act due in 2020, and state-level concerns about available revenue for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) could “temper” transportation construction market growth in 2020.
That noted, the Black findings still project that state investment in public streets and highways, the largest market sector, will “increase by 6% to $77.5 billion after growing 15 percent in 2019”.
The Bridges and Tunnels Sector in 2020
The bridge and tunnel sector is expected to gain momentum in 2020 after a slight dip from $28.8 billion in 2018 to $28.6 billion in 2019. After years of preliminary environmental impact reviews, long-awaited Records of Decision from the Federal Highway Administration, and the bureaucratic red tape which always encumbers complex infrastructure projects, 2020 can be the breakthrough year for the tunnel and bridge sector.
Initiated way back in 2014, progress in 2020 on immense infrastructure projects such as Virginia’s $3.56 Billion Hampton Roads Bridge and Tunnel (HRBT) Project will contribute to the 3% growth in the bridge and tunnel sector anticipated by the Black findings. The project will use a football field-sized tunnel boring machine (TBM) assembled in a 65′ pit to bore twin two-lane tunnels that will handle four lanes of traffic, totaling eight lanes of extended capacity across the water. The HRBT will also add a third lane and a drivable shoulder to I-64 in each direction to ease congestion in the I-64 corridor.
After environmental impact study delays bounced Mobile, Alabama’s I-10 bridge project from the 2019 timetable, ALDOT (Alabama Dept. of Transportation) officials are hoping that final public hearings in January will clear the way for construction to begin in 2020. The $2 billion dollar project features a high-rise cable-stayed bridge spanning the Mobile River and 7.5 miles of “Bayway” replacement with improvements including wider, higher highways and modernization to 7 intersections. $600 million in funding will come from public money with the remainder recovered via all-electronic tolls.
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