Highway, bridge construction starts surge

News McGraw-Hill Construction October 07, 2004
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August construction starts settled back 4% from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $573

August construction starts settled back 4% from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $573.3 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Cos. The retreat for total construction was due to a slower pace for nonresidential building after a very strong July, in combination with a slight loss of momentum for residential building and nonbuilding construction. For the first eight months of 2004, total construction on an unadjusted basis came to $394.3 billion, up 10% from the same period a year ago.


The August statistics produced a 173 reading for the Dodge Index, down from July's 179 which was the highest level so far in 2004.


"Total construction continues to move at a healthy pace, and it's now virtually certain that full year growth for 2004 will exceed the 5% gain in 2003," said Robert Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction.


Nonbuilding construction in August fell 2% to $100.1 billion. Public works construction retreated 1%, with the loss of momentum coming from the environmental categories. Highways and bridges had a strong August, with respective gains of 11% and 25%. Helping to boost the bridge total in August were the start of major renovation projects in Houston ($175 million) and New York City ($137 million).


While August was relatively strong for transportation-related work, the broader trend during 2004 has been downward, with the first eight months of 2004 showing a 2% decline for highways and a 16% decline for bridges.


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