Rock Products

SEP 2017

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www.rockproducts.com ROCK products • September 2017 • 47 The value of new construction starts in July advanced 6 percent from the pre- vious month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $728.1 billion, it was reported by Dodge Data & Analytics. Leading the way was a 26 percent jump by the nonbuilding construction sector, which reflected an improved level for public works and the start of two mas- sive power plants, located respectively in California and New York. Highway and bridge construction increased 10 percent in July, and fea- tured the start of the $322 million I-74 bridge replacement across the Missis- sippi River in Davenport, Iowa, a $192 million highway expansion in San Anto- nio, and a $94 million rehabilitation project on the Henry Hudson Parkway in New York. Through the first seven months of 2017, the top five states in terms of the dollar amount of highway and bridge construction starts were – Texas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Residential building in July increased 8 percent, as multifamily housing rebounded after three consecutive monthly declines. Running counter was a 7 percent slide for nonresidential building following its 14 percent hike in June, as both office buildings and hotels retreated from June's elevated activity, outweighing a sharp rise for healthcare facilities in July. "July's increase means the third quarter began on a healthy note, which should help to maintain the up-and-down pattern on a quarterly basis that's been present for construction starts over the past year," stated Robert A. Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics. "Within that up-and- down pattern there remains a modest upward trend, as it appears that con- struction starts are still in the process of reaching a peak, as opposed to having already reached a peak. Public works construction, after sluggish activity earlier in the year, is showing hesitant signs of improvement. It's true that residential building is now seeing gen- erally decreased activity for multifamily housing, but the monthly declines con- tinue to be mixed in with monthly gains, such as what took place in July. For nonresidential building, growth is being supported by its institutional segment, while commercial building is leveling off due to varied behavior by its individual project types." Nonbuilding Construction Nonbuilding construction in July was $195.8 billion (annual rate), up 26 per- cent from June and achieving its second highest amount so far in 2017 after Feb- ruary. The public works categories as a group rose 12 percent, rebounding after a 7 percent decline in June. Water supply construction had a par- ticularly strong month, soaring 136 percent with the lift coming from the start of the $844 million Vista Ridge water supply pipeline project in San Antonio, as well as an $88 million recycled water treatment facility in San Francisco. Sewer construction improved 37 percent after a weak June, although river/harbor development receded 2 percent. The miscellaneous public works cat- egory, which includes natural gas pipelines and mass transit, slipped 10 percent in July, continuing to recede after very strong activity back in May. Even with its decline, miscellaneous public works still included the July start of the $1.5 billion Brownsville to Nueces natural gas pipeline in Texas and a $225 million rail transit project in Bellevue, Wash. The electric utility/gas plant category surged 64 percent in July, registering its second straight monthly gain in contrast to the substantially weaker activity reported during the first five months of 2017. Two massive natural gas-fired power generation facilities were included as construction starts in July – the $2.2 billon Carlsbad Energy Center in Carls- bad, Calif., and the $1.6 billion Cricket Valley Energy Center in Dover Plains, N.Y. There were five other large power plant projects that reached ground- breaking in July, located in Connecticut ($550 million), Georgia ($400 million), ECONOMICS MONTHLY CONSTRUCTION STARTS (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rates, In Millions of Dollars) July 2017 June 2017 % Change Nonresidential Building $231,232 $249,353 -7 Residential Building $301,088 $279,606 +8 Nonbuilding Construction $195,771 $155,220 +26 TOTAL Construction $728,091 $684,179 +6 July Construction Starts Increase 6 Percent Gains Reported for Public Works, Power Plants, Multifamily Housing, Healthcare Facilities and Highways. By Mark S. Kuhar

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