2019 was a banner year for U.S. construction firms, with many executives reporting that business has never been better and the top companies in the country earning record profits.
Nevertheless, challenges persisted for contractors large and small, brought on by factors such as the continued labor shortage, trade uncertainty and predictions of a potential national recession. Despite mostly positive economic news, builders watched for signs of a downturn the entire year.
Another issue that came to light in 2019 was the problem that major firms had with risk brought on by some large publicly funded projects, and several CEOs said they would move away from contract methods that exposed them to financial or legal trouble. One of the biggest pain points was the use of public-private partnerships (P3s) as a way to design, finance and construct large taxpayer-funded projects like highways and airports.
On the other hand, contractors were enthusiastic about the promise of modular construction and technology solutions to help cut down schedule time and keep customers happy.
This year unfortunately saw a number of high-profile accidents, including a collapse at the Hard Rock Hotel project in New Orleans; accidents on the I-4 Ultimate highway project in Florida; and the recent collapse of a building under construction in Cincinnati.
Nevertheless, one of the topics that got readers’ attention more than any other was the potential for hyperloop and high-speed rail technology to be used in U.S. transit projects, led by high-profile companies like the Boring Co. and Virgin. While a few of these types of projects are under construction or consideration, the nationwide adoption of high-speed rail won’t be a reality for many years, making it a topic that will keep builders interested throughout the decade.
Enjoy our roundup of the biggest trends in commercial construction and happy new year from all of us at Construction Dive.