Bright spots in the growth of airport, rail, transit, port and waterway construction have been overshadowed by a 6% decline in the real value of highway pavement work, according to the latest American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Contractors completed $8.4 billion in pavement construction work between January and April 2013, compared to $8.9 billion during the same time period in 2012.
The airport, rail, transit, and port and waterway construction markets have each shown double-digit real growth in early 2013. The real value of subway and light-rail work is up 22.6% to $2.4 billion, railroad work is up 11% to $2.9 billion, airport terminal and runway construction is up 22% to $3.7 billion, and work on docks, piers and ports is up 23% to $761 million. Bridge and tunnel work between January and April 2013 was slightly above last year’s pace, with $7.3 billion in work completed, compared to $7.2 billion during the same time period in 2012.
There are several things affecting the pavement market, according to ARTBA’s Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black. Winter weather is always one factor impacting the market in the early part of the year, but it does not explain it all. She noted there has been a continued decline in pavement work since 2009.
“This is largely a result of the pull back in state and local spending, the significant drop-off in federal investment in transportation improvements due to the completion of the 2009 stimulus law, and status-quo federal investment levels under MAP-21. When you combine all of these factors, pavement work is off to the slowest start that we have seen in at least 14 years,” she said.