Highway construction down again

News AASHTO Journal June 10, 2005
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Public highway and street construction dropped by 3.2% to $66.4 billion during the month of April. The reduction was attributed to the lack of a federal surface-transportation reauthorization bill, Bloomberg News reported.

State officials who build public roads with a combination of state and federal funds “don’t move forward with big projects if they’re not sure of funding levels,” Leslie Jezuit, chief executive of Chicago-based Quixote Corp., which makes highway safety equipment.

We’ve seen many of the large projects delayed or deferred, or significantly reduced,” Jezuit said.

The overall construction-spending increase, after a 0.6 rise in March, brought the value of new construction to $1.067 trillion at an annual rate, the Commerce Department stated. Spending has grown every month since January 2004, the longest growth stretch since record keeping in the area began in 1993.

Home construction was up by 0.6%, accounting for more than half the April total. Construction of factories and other industrial buildings was also up. The figures suggest that growth in jobs and profits, along with low borrowing costs, is continuing to buoy expansion.

Privately financed construction rose 0.8% to a record $828.9 billion rate, led by office and commercial structures, while private residential construction rose 0.6% in April to an annual rate of $595.6 billion, another record.

But government-funded construction fell 0.4% in April to $238 billion at an annual rate, after rising 0.4%. Federal construction decreased 7.9%, while state and local spending rose 0.2% after rising 0.3%.

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