- The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) has predicted the U.S. transportation construction industry will grow only 1.3% to $247.8 billion in 2017, Equipment World reported.
- ARTBA said the private sector will drive much of next year’s growth, with an increase of almost $4 billion in the highway, bridge, parking lot and driveway markets, as well as private investment in public assets like bridges, airports, rail, ports and public transit.
- Public-private partnerships (P3s) will continue to play a role in state and local revenue-generating projects, according to the ARTBA.
ARTBA said financing was firmed up for five large P3 projects in 2016, representing more than $3.3 billion in investment in Arizona, Washington, Georgia, Texas and Virginia. P3s have increasingly been considered a way to stretch government dollars by allowing the private sector to help finance and maintain the completed asset, usually in exchange for the right to collect user fees or tolls.
Other highlights from the 2017 ARTBA outlook include:
- Bridge and tunnel work, although expected to be down in 2017, should rebound in 2018.
- Nine states — California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina and Ohio — represent 53% of the bridge-and-tunnel market, but the numbers reflect a dearth of large contracts because of projects that began in 2015.
- Airport terminal and runway construction should tick upwards slightly or remain unchanged.
- Port and waterway construction is also expected to stay about the same as 2016, unless Congress finalizes the $9 billion Water Resources Development Act.
- The railroad, subway and light-rail sector should grow 5% to $20.3 billion in 2017, with subway and light-rail funding expected to come in slightly below its 2015 record of $7.8 billion.
The ARTBA noted that voters in 24 states approved more than 265 transportation funding measures in the November elections, adding $207 billion to their respective coffers and financing a variety of projects for the next 40 years. The organization said that transportation ballot measures are usually popular and that voters have approved them at an average of 74% over the last 10 years.
Aside from the ARTBA’s predictions, a big chunk of the future of infrastructure in the U.S. depends on how far President-elect Donald Trump gets with his $1 trillion infrastructure plan. During the campaign, his advisers said a Trump administration would give the private sector an 82% tax credit for equity investments in fee- or toll-based projects, allowing the government to spend its limited funds on projects like non-toll highway and bridges. Trump’s camp has come up with no additional details since the election, except that they might consider an infrastructure bank as part of their plan, a strategy for which they criticized opponent Hillary Clinton during the election.