Transportation construction contractors have done more work in the first four months of 2014 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest Value of Construction Put in Place data from the U.S. Census Bureau, but are still not back to working at pre-recession levels. The year-to-date value of overall transportation work increased by 4.5% from January to April 2014 compared to January to April 2013, and the real value of all transportation work done in April 2014 was up 3% compared to April 2013.
Highway contractors completed over $3 billion in ongoing construction work in April 2014, compared to $2.8 billion in April 2013. Construction activity in the bridge market was flat compared to April 2013. Other modes showed mixed growth in the first four months of 2014. The real value of construction work on railroad projects was up 11% for April 2014 compared to April 2013, while the value of subway and light rail construction activity for April 2014 was down 2.5% compared to the previous year. Airport work was down 6% while the real value of construction work for ports and waterways was up 7%.
Although the value of work on highway and bridge projects is up in early 2014, state and local highway and bridge contract awards, a leading indicator of future market activity, continue to trail last year’s pace. State and local governments are expected to continue to hold back on projects as the uncertainty over the Highway Trust Fund situation continues. Overall market activity in 2014 also will depend on the continued recovery in state and local finance and the U.S. economy.