Category Archives: Uncategorized

Report: Construction Slows on Much Needed Bridge Repairs Across U.S.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) released its 2019 Bridge Report, and it is a good news/bad news (mostly the latter).

While there are fewer structurally deficient bridges than the year before, construction to fix them has slowed to the point where it would take 80 years to make the needed significant repairs, according to the report. That is not a good trend when the more than 47,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country are in need of “urgent” repairs.

Based on data from 2018, the “highlights” of the findings include:

  • Four out of 10 bridges need to be replaced or repaired
  • 47,052 of America’s 616,087 bridges are rated “structurally deficient” and need urgent repairs
  • The pace of repair in 2018 slowed compared to previous years—with only a 1 percent net reduction of deficient structures.
  • Americans cross these deficient bridges 178 million times a day.
  • Average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 62 years, compared to 40 years for non-deficient bridges.
  • 235,020 (38 percent) of U.S. bridges have identified repair needs.
  • 18,842 (1 in 3) Interstate highway bridges have identified repair needs

The report breaks down the crumbling infrastructure by state.

Rhode Island ranked first on the list by the percentage of deficient bridges with more than 23 percent of its 780 bridges found to be structurally deficient. Pennsylvania was fifth on the list with 3,770 of its 22,737 bridges listed as deficient, which is more than 16 percent. New York was 13th (1,757 out of 17,521/10 percent). New Jersey was 23 (544 out of 6,746, 8.1 percent).

New Jersey Paving the Way with Funding for Infrastructure Projects

New Jersey has spread the wealth in April with parts of Northern and Southern NJ receiving state funding to move forward with infrastructure projects.

Hoboken received more than $900,000 for various transportation projects through the Municipal Aid Program, the city announced last week. The money will be used for road repaving, the implementation of complete streets, and pedestrian safety upgrades related to Hoboken’s “Vision Zero” program, according to a press release.

“Upgrading our transportation infrastructure, especially our road repaving and pedestrian safety initiatives, are major priorities for my administration,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in the announcement. “This funding will help fund our proactive road repaving schedule, with over 100 blocks planned to be repaved in the city this year.  I thank Governor Murphy and the State DOT for this generous award.”

In other NJ infrastructure and transit-related project funding news, Murphy announced the Fiscal Year 2019 Safe Streets to Transit Program (SSTT) grants, which were awarded to five municipal projects through the Transit Village grant program. The recipient municipalities are:

  • Berkeley Heights, Union County: $410,000
  • Delran, Burlington County: $250,000
  • Margate, Atlantic County: $150,000
  • Red Bank, Monmouth County: $100,000
  • Middle Township, Cape May County: $90,000

The $1 million in funding will go toward projects that focus on pedestrian safety to and from transit facilities, such as sidewalks, and projects that create “safe and convenient ways to cross streets and comfortable and attractive environments” near NJ Transit stations.

Time To Go To The Shed

New York City officials held a ribbon cutting for The Shed earlier this week, and the $475 million project officially opens to the public tomorrow. Manhattan’s newest not-for-profit cultural arts center sits at West 30th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues taking in crowds from The High Line and Hudson Yards. It aims to host events across all disciplines including music, theater, dance, literature, and art—and it intends to do it in a way that minimizes economic and social barriers.

It will attract attention as a building alone. The design team created an “anti-institutional institution,” according to The Architectural Record. The Shed has a Teflon-based polymer and steel telescoping outer shell that can roll onto the outer plaza, doubling the size of the indoor venue space to 17,000 square feet. The eight-floor building has 200,000 square feet total and is topped off by a glass-covered studio space.

Northeast Projects At Risk of Delay, Defunding To Pay for Border Wall

There are many government construction projects in the Northeast that could be delayed and millions of dollars in funds may be diverted to pay for President Trump’s Border Wall. The  Department of Defense list of military projects that could potentially be impacted was released this week by a senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In New Jersey, a $41 million construction project at Picatinny Arsenal is at risk of being delayed, but the four projects—including work on electrical systems and mechanical systems, as well as exterior renovations and  cleaning and repairing lift stations and catch basins—totaling more than $100 million for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst would go ahead as planned because those contracts are scheduled to be awarded in March, April, May and September, and the Defense Department said it would not divert funding from projects scheduled to begin before Oct. 1, according to NJ.com.

In New York, The U.S. Military Academy in West Point could lose up to $160 million designated for a new engineering center and parking centerArmy Times reported.

Four projects in Pennsylvania are at risk, including a $71 million submarine propeller manufacturing facility in Philadelphia. In Delaware, the $39 million aircraft maintenance building at Dover Air Force could be delayed, according to Delaware Business Now.

As of now, no project would be cancelled to fund the Border Wall, the Pentagon said. But for that to hold true, Congress must approve the request to fully replenish the funds, according to the Army Times.

Schumer Hopes Legislation Can Jump-start Gateway Construction

This week New York Senator Chuck Schumer said he will propose legislation to push construction to start on the multi-billion dollar Gateway Tunnel and Portal Bridge Project. Speaking at an event of the Association for a Better New York, Schumer said his bill would allow New York and New Jersey to advance money to get shovel-ready construction projects started and be guaranteed reimbursement from the federal government when the U.S. Department of Transportation gives its final approval.

Schumer said “if DOT continues to withhold the new starts grants from Portal and the ROD [record of decision] for the Hudson tunnels” he and fellow members of Congress from New York and New Jersey would push this legislation and attach it to an appropriations bill or some other “must-pass legislation,” according to The Bond Buyer.

Right now, Schumer said, even if the states had the money to fund the projects ready to begin the $12.7 billion plan to upgrade the rail tunnel under the Hudson River, the local government won’t spend that money for fear of not getting back what they would be owed from the federal government.

Acknowledging that this legislation is not the “magic solution” to solving the problems plaguing the Gateway Project overnight, Schumer said “the time for waiting is over.”

Floor Plan Altered for Penn Medicine Pavilion

Anticipation is building for the Pavilion at Penn Medicine, which will be an innovative building on the cutting edge of hospital construction and design when it opens in 2021. Exactly what it will look like inside, however, is still something of a work-in-progress. While garage construction is underway at the site of the $1.5 billion project, the floor plan design for the patient room layout was recently altered, according to the university’s newspaper.

Part of the innovation already planned was to have rooms that converted from intensive care to a standard room or even from an operating room to recovery to discharge. Each room will also have its own private bathroom. Technology will be worked into the construction and design of the largest capital project in the university’s history and the city of Philadelphia’s most sophisticated and ambitious healthcare building.

The new design will allow for “quicker room conversion, more greeting space for visitors, and patients will be able to change room conditions with the new technology.”

While, the number of rooms will remain at approximately the same 700 total, the design’s previous floor plan included two 32-bed units on a patient floor, separated by a central public elevator and waiting space, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian. The change in design will divide the beds into three units. Each unit now will contain 24 beds and will be separated by two elevator cores that serve as midpoints between each section. All of the rooms will be identically oriented with beds and bathrooms on the same side to make conversion easier.

The 1.25 million square-foot building’s eco-friendly construction includes not only the pursuit of LEED certification but plans for the re-use of water, use of 100 percent outside air and plenty of park-like, outdoor green space throughout the Pavilion building for patients, visitors and staff.

NYU Creates Institute of Design and Construction (IDC) Innovations Hub

A new partnership hopes to combine academic research with real-world industry knowledge to better engineering design and construction in the future.

New York University Tandon School of Engineering recently announced the creation of the Institute of Design and Construction (IDC) Innovations Hub. The “industry supported and membership-based center will promote innovation in construction, engineering design, and management” with a commitment to maximize safety, efficiency and sustainability within the construction sector, according to the university’s announcement.

It will be run by Michael Horodniceanu, an internationally prominent transportation and construction executive, who is a professor within the department of urban and civil engineering. NYU hopes the center serves as a model of a partnership between industry and research and solve problems that often cause projects to have schedule delays and run over budget.

Some of the center’s stated goals include:

  • Help industry executives devise creative solutions to project design and construction issues.
  • Provide access to consultancy services from experienced, independent experts.
  • Sponsor in-depth informational seminars on topics ranging from organizational issues to best practices in the selection of materials and machinery.
  • Support training programs provided by academics and industry leaders.
  • Promote networking opportunities among a wide spectrum of organizations in the construction sector.
  • Serve as a national clearinghouse for sharing information on consulting and construction opportunities.

NYC Construction Costs Are Highest in the Country But NY Building Congress CEO Says It’s Worth It

The numbers are out, and it’s no surprise—it is expensive to build in New York City. As a matter of fact, New York City has the highest construction costs in the country. And they just keep going up.

The New York Building Congress released its New York City Construction Costs 2019 Construction Outlook Update this week. Last year, the cost of construction in New York City rose 5 percent, compared to a 3 to 4 percent increase nationally. That is about the same increase as the year before and, overall, NYC remains the country’s most expensive major city to build in. The primary driving factors in construction expenses were the cost of land, materials and regulations, according to the report.

The top ranking is created by Class A office and retail building costs, which were significantly higher than any other sector. New York is actually behind Chicago in hotel construction costs, less expensive than Los Angeles for K-12 education, and ranked lower than Chicago and San Francisco for multi-family residential construction.

Despite the overall numbers, it’s worth it to work in New York City, according to Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO of New York Building Congress.

“While the cost of construction is high, the rewards for doing business in New York have never been greater.”

PA Governor Seeks To Fund Infrastructure with Shale Tax

Like most states across the country, Pennsylvania is need of major infrastructure upgrades. This week, Governor Tom Wolf announced his budget, which included a plan to restore and upgrade infrastructure across the state.

His budget included $4.5 billion for “impact projects” throughout Pennsylvania, including high-speed transportation and internet, over the next four years, but the cost would be covered by a proposed severance tax on natural gas drillers and not everyone supports that proposal.

This shale tax is something Wolf has tried in the past, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, which says the state’s Republicans immediately opposed the Democratic governor’s plan and said it would adversely impact the drilling industry in the state.

Pennsylvania currently imposes an impact fee on shale gas wells but does not tax the amount extracted.  The fight over the tax could delay the budget from passing and the money from getting to the infrastructure projects where it is needed. 

Adventure Crossing Hopes To Be NJ’s Destination for Indoor Sports And More

Never mind the American Dream. New Jersey’s game-changing construction project may just be happening in Ocean County, far down the NJ Turnpike from Exit 16W’s infamous Meadowlands development.

Cardinale Enterprises wants to turn Jackson, NJ, into more than Six Flags and a stop for some outlet shopping on the way home. Instead the destination will be Adventure Crossing—an indoor sports and entertainment facility with easy access to the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, adjacent to Six Flags and a quick trip to the Shore’s beaches. It will be the go-to place for youth sports tournaments and training camps, as well as business conferences and an overnight stay and extra activities for the rollercoaster crowd after a day at Great Adventure.

The amended preliminary and final site plan was approved by Jackson Township Zoning Board on January 30. Construction began  in July when they broke ground and started working on approximately $9 million of sewer and water mains, road work and land grading. The centerpiece of the facility is a 117,000-square-foot inflatable dome that is 89 feet tall and will include multiple, multi-use turf fields, five basketball and volleyball courts, an area for laser tag and an arcade, rock climbing walls, and a 12,000 square foot mezzanine for training classes as well as overlooking the courts and fields. Work on the dome has begun as part of Phase I of the construction, which will include a 10,000 square foot banquet hall and two hotels—a 140-room Hilton Garden and a 134-room Spring Hill Suites.

While the dome and the two hotels expect to be opened in late 2020, the entire vision of Cardinale founder and president Vito Cardinale for the $500 million project is expected to take about 10 years to be fully completed.  The plans  include a 100,000 square foot gymnastics facility, four to six hockey rinks, a retail complex, a golf driving range, an outdoor cricket stadium, a brain research center, and possibly a living facility for people with special needs. The original site was 150 acres but since the summer, Cardinale has acquired enough property to double the size to 300 acres.

 The New Jersey Sierra Club expressed environmental concerns about loss of habitat by building on the Pinelands property. Having struck a deal with Six Flags to protect part of that Ocean County location from clearing more land, they worry now that this development will negate what they gained in that negotiation, but Cardinale Enterprises said recently it will leave half of the land on its site “green.”