News & Updates

Detroit-Canada Bridge Plan Needs Funding to Continue

on . Posted in Large construction projects

One of the construction projects currently garnering national attention is the commuter bridge connecting Detroit with Canada. President Barack Obama's federal budget proposal didn't include funding for the customs plaza that will be built on the U.S. side of the Detroit River. However, despite the funding recommendation's omission, officials believe the $2.1 billion New International Trade Crossing plan will be completed on schedule by 2020.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder doesn't have a strategy in place to come up with the $250 million needed for the customs plaza, but through his spokesperson, Sara Wurfel, he issued a statement explaining construction of the bridge will proceed without delays.

"This infrastructure project is of utmost economic significance to both Michigan and the entire U.S. and our largest trading partner Canada," Wurfel said. "The Canadian government and the state of Michigan remain deeply committed to their highly dependent partnership and multiple avenues of resolution to the issue are being explored."

The New Bridge Creates Several Opportunities
Currently, the trade relationship that brings in $70 billion per year between the U.S. and Canada is being fostered by the 84-year-old Ambassador Bridge, according to The Associated Press AP. Improving the infrastructure will not only increase construction jobs during the lifespan of the project, but it will also boost the U.S. economy. 

Michigan Rep.Gary Peters recently released a statement, claiming the Obama Administration made a mistake by not including the Detroit plaza in its budget plan. He believes working with leaders in Michigan and Canada will help both sides come up with a way to collect the funding needed.

Mark Butler, a spokesman of Transport Canada, agrees. He told The AP that roughly 10 million jobs in his country and the U.S. depend on a smooth trade route. Without a new bridge, it will be difficult to ensure the export and import relationship between the two countries will continue to get stronger,he added.

"A new bridge is needed for growing trade and traffic at Windsor-Detroit,'' Butler said. "This project will also create thousands of jobs and opportunities on both sides of the border. It will also provide a much-needed crossing alternative at the busiest Canada-U.S. commercial border crossing.''

Canada Plans to Provide Much of the Funding
The New International Trade Crossing project is expected to costs roughly $3.5 billion, and The AP reported Canada will be responsible for $2.3 billion of the total. It will even cover $550 million in infrastructure costs for construction on the Michigan side. Without federal funding, state officials in Michigan may have to get a little creative to finance their side of the bridge.

According to MLive, a local news website, coming up with the funds for the project is the final obstacle the state must overcome before starting the project in 2016. Getting final approval will likely allow officials to seek out contractor bids in the local construction network.


Construction Industry is the Deadliest Job in Kentucky

on . Posted in Construction industry trends

On average, 13 Americans are killed on the job every day of the year, according to the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Since 2011, 21 construction workers have died in Kentucky, The Associated Press reported. The Kentucky Labor Cabinet announced that construction work is the deadliest job in Kentucky, The Lane Report indicated.

The cabinet shared this news on behalf of Workers' Memorial Day on April 28. On this day, individuals honor workers who have died on the job all over the country. 

"No worker should lose a life for a paycheck," said Larry L. Roberts, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary.

OSHA was founded on Workers' Memorial Day. Under OSHA Act of 1971, employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace. OSHA plays a major role in ensuring these conditions are met for America's working men and women. The administration sets and enforces standards and provides training, education and assistance.

However, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization reported that many job hazards are unregulated. Several employers cut corners and violate the law. To improve safety conditions, the Obama Administration is strengthening protections with tougher enforcement on employers that continue to violate the law. AFL-CIO says they will education, mobilize and organize union members to demand strong safety and health protections to save workers- lives.

United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities Director Tammy Miser offers support to family members and friends who have lost loved ones in workplace accidents.

"They just never dreamed they were going to go to work, and they're providing for family members and they just don't come home," Miser said.

Construction Industry on the Road to Recovery

on . Posted in Construction industry trends


With a record reading of 72 out of 100, the Engineering News-Record's "Construction Industry Confidence Index" in the first quarter of 2014 demonstrates that construction is still making gradual gains as the industry recovers from the Great Recession. The 3-point growth from the 69 CICI rating in the fourth quarter of 2013 further proves that leaders are optimistic about the upcoming year.

Forty-two percent of the more than 400 executives from contractor and engineering firms who responded to the survey, which was published by McGraw Hill Construction, said they believe the current construction market is still growing. In addition, 57 percent said the industry will continue to increase for the next six months, while 64 percent stated that the market is improving and is poised for a full recovery by 2015.

"The ENR 'Construction Industry Confidence Index' for the first quarter of 2014 shows a dramatic leap in expectations about the current and near term by construction and design firm executives," said Janice Tuchman, editor-in-chief of Engineering News-Record. "Survey respondents believe the private-sector markets are the healthiest, led by petroleum, power, hotels and hospitality and multi unit residential. All sectors measured by the survey were on the upswing."

Companies Are Finding it Easier to Finance Construction Projects
Access to capital has been a struggle for a handful of years in the construction industry, but now businesses believe the problem may be coming to an end as optimism levels rise. According to the index, nearly 34 percent of respondents said it's easier to receive credit for project financing, while more than 56 percent said they have seen many changes on the matter throughout the past six months.

With more money at their disposal, executives will be able to reach out to their construction networks to bring on the contractors and other workers who will help them complete projects on schedule. In fact, roughly 33 percent of respondents said profit margins are higher than last year's.

Lack of Available Homes Could Hurt Housing Market
While the construction industry appears to be on the upswing, the housing market has also been in recovery mode. However, the current inventory of homes may make it difficult for a full recovery to take place. A recent article for Fox Business said that the momentum building in the housing market may be affected by the fact that the number of available homes fell more than 9 percent before the turn of the year, Jed Smith, managing director of quantitative research for the National Association of Realtors, told the news source.

"The lack of inventory is a big obstacle for the housing market right now," Smith said. "It becomes a supply and demand issue; without more homes available, home prices will continue to rise, which is bad news for home buyers. The Great Recession forced many of the smaller builders to go out of business because they didn't have access to the credit market and those builders tend to make up about 50 percent of new home construction."

7 Floors Collapse at an Apartment Construction Site in Boston

on . Posted in Construction safety and enforcement (OSHA)

The Boston Fire Department got an early start on March 20 when seven floors of a 33-story building under construction at 45 Stuart Street in the Chinatown area abruptly collapsed around 8 a.m. Two workers were injured and taken to Tufts Medical Center when floors 5 through 11 of the structure caved because of what Deputy Fire Chief Robert Calobrisi is calling a "dead load," reported Boston ABC affiliate WCVB.

"I think they were putting something heavy on the roof, and it caused the roof to give in a little, and unfortunately two workers were under that," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told the news source.

Collapses Cause Safety Concerns Among Workers
Fire department spokesman Steve MacDonald told The Boston Globe that all workers were accounted for minutes after the collapse, but one suffered a serious head injury.

"Everyone's shaken up," said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. "You know, it could be anybody. Construction is a dangerous, dangerous job."

With roughly 120 laborers, iron workers and carpenters working in various places in the structure, it demonstrates that contractors should always be prepared for anything when working on construction jobs. The Globe reported that inspectors from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the city and the state will be investigating the site and plan to help the builders at Stuart Street, the company contracted to construct the building, to understand how to prevent these instances in the future.

Have An Evacuation Plan
Emergencies like this one in Boston serve as a reminder to construction companies to be prepared for anything. Keeping this in mind, managers must create a set of evacuation policies and procedures to ensure that all workers are safe when a structure collapses, a fire occurs or any other type of disaster takes place. 

Not only should an action plan be in place, but OSHA states that all employees must be trained on how to properly carry it out. Practicing evacuation strategies will help workers stay prepared at the onset of an incident. Contractors should ensure that evacuation routes and exits are properly marked, wide enough for all people on the site and don't expose employees to any other risks.

According to OSHA, every worker who is active on a construction project must be quickly accounted for when a disaster occurs. To make this process easier for managers, every company should designate assembly areas for employees after the evacuation of a building. It's also important to have an accounting system in place to ensure that no one is forgotten. Construction firms can create a culture of safety and increase safety awareness by developing and utilizing a comprehensive company safety plan in conjunction with site-specific safety plans. Written safety plans are an OSHA requirement and will help educate construction employees to recognize job site hazards and react appropriately to emergency situations while on the job site.


Massive Fire Forces Construction Worker to be Rescued

on . Posted in Construction safety and enforcement (OSHA)

Trapped on a fourth-floor balcony in the midst of a five-alarm fire, a construction worker recently needed to be rescued by the Houston Fire Department as the flames were just feet away from him. Spokesperson Ruy Lozano told Houston ABC affiliate KTRK that a ladder truck arrived just before the worker was going to attempt to jump to safety.

The fire spread quickly throughout a luxury apartment building under construction in West Dallas located at Marconi in the Montrose area. The wind swept the flames from one side of the building to the other, forcing workers to evacuate the complex while roughly 200 firefighters rushed to the scene to battle the blaze.

"Because it was under construction, a lot of things were exposed and we're having a lot of collapses of the construction in different areas," Lozano said to USA Today.

Workers Must be Prepared for Risks of Construction Projects
The cause of the fire remains unknown at this point, but it serves as a reminder that contractors must remain aware of all of the potential threats that can cause an emergency in a matter of moments. Sometimes having a fire extinguisher handy is not enough to prevent the spread of flames throughout a construction site. Eyewitness Larry Reader told KTRK that he watched construction workers try to battle the fire with an extinguisher, but since flames were spreading so quickly, it didn't help very much. He added that one of them was the same man who eventually needed to be rescued by the fire department.

Another witness of the fire, political consultant Adam Harris, took a video of the flame as he was caught in traffic that was caused by the fire, he told the news source.

"How amazing it is that nobody was hurt," Harris said. "Blows my mind. I actually talked to some of the workers and said, 'What happened?' And they said, 'We don't know. Everyone yelled fire, fire, fire and we got out.'"

Contractors Were Amazed by the Flames
Workers who are on construction jobs a majority of the year often believe they have seen everything that can occur during the length of a project. However, Juan and Raul Hernandez, two of the construction workers who were on-site at the building were astonished at how quickly the fire spread throughout the building. Juan told KTRK that the wind must've have been a major factor in how the building was completely engulfed in flames, the enormous cloud of black smoke and the eventual collapse of the complex. Many of the other workers stopped what they were doing and got off the site as quickly as possible as it became apparent that this wasn't something they would be able to handle on their own.

"When everybody started screaming, I just climbed down the scaffold and walked away," Raul told the news source.

While no workers were injured as a result of the fire, it demonstrate that safety must be a top priority when working on large construction projects.