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Bridge, Tunnel Work Top 2014 Outlook

Thursday, January 2, 2014

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The new year should ring in increased spending on transportation infrastructure, including “record levels” of bridge and tunnel construction spending, a new analysis says.

The forecast, by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), predicts that the overall U.S. transportation infrastructure construction market will grow by 5 percent in 2014, to $135.8 billion.

Leading the market: double-digit growth in airport runway and terminal work, a 6 percent increase in bridge and tunnel construction, and at least 5 percent growth in waterway, port and heavy and light rail investment, according to Dr. Alison Premo Black, ARTBA’s chief economist.

However, uncertainty about the level of federal support for state highway programs after September 2014 will slow the road pavement market throughout the year.

“Absent congressional action to improve the revenue stream into the federal Highway Trust Fund before next October, federal support for state programs faces a potential $40 billion cut in fiscal year 2015,” Black said. “That uncertainty is already putting a damper on state project lettings. Congress needs to act.”

ARTBA transportation infrastructure forecast
©iStock / KenWiedemann

The U.S. transportation infrastructure construction market is forecast to grow 5 percent in 2014, to $135.8 billion.

ARTBA’s forecast is based on a proprietary econometric model and analysis of federal, state and local data and market intelligence.

Long-Term Pavement Look

According to Black, the pavement market will grow 2.6 percent nationally, to $54.4 billion, including $42.7 billion in public and private investments in parking lots, driveways and related structures. The market will be uneven, with paving work expected to climb in 19 states, decrease in 20, and remain flat in 11, Black said.

“If the federal program can be at least stabilized, the longer-term outlook for pavements could be much more positive. Bipartisan political support for significantly increased transportation investment has been seen in a number of bell-weather states this year, including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and Massachusetts. Wyoming and Vermont passed gas tax increases for expanded investment.

"Eighty-five percent of the 2014 transportation investment ballot initiatives passed. And the public-private investment market is picking up with the expansion of the federal loan guarantee program,” Black said.

“Over the past 10 years, on average nationally, federal funding has provided 52 percent of the money invested by state transportation departments in road and bridge capital improvement projects,” Black said. “The federal share ranges from 35 percent in New Jersey to over 70 percent in 11 states.”

Market Breakdown

Bridge and tunnel construction is expected to see a “record level” increase from $28.5 billion in 2013 to $30.1 billion in 2014. Large projects in 10 states—California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington—will make up about half of the market activity.

2014 construction
©iStock / mountainberryphoto

ARTBA expects all transportation construction markets to grow in 2014.

The construction market for ports and waterways is forecast to grow by $100 million, reaching $3.0 billion in 2014. According to ARTBA, this market grew by one-third since 2011 because of an anticipated increase in sea trade through the Panama Canal starting in 2015.  The same 10 states that will lead the bridge and tunnel sector will also drive the port and waterways market.

The total value of airport runway and terminal construction is expected to see a 17 percent jump to $14.7 billion this year. Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington will drive this market, according to ARTBA.

Domestic light rail, subway and railroad construction will see growth throughout the year. Subway and light rail markets will increase 5 percent from $7.5 billion in 2013 to $7.9 billion in 2014; heavy rail investment will grow 8 percent to $12.6 billion. Based on state and local government contract awards, ARTBA forecasts that key projects will move forward in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Washington, D.C.


Established in 1902, ARTBA represents the U.S. transportation design and construction industry. The association is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

The association's mission is to "aggressively grow and protect transportation infrastructure investment to meet the public and business demand for safe and efficient travel."


Tagged categories: Airports; American Road & Trans Builders Assn (ARTBA); Bridges; Construction; Infrastructure; Market forecasts; Roads/Highways; Transportation; Tunnel

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