- North Carolina is preparing for a public construction and infrastructure building boom courtesy of voters — by a two-to-one voting margin — and a $2 billion bond measure, according to the Engineering News-Record.
- Two-thirds of the bonds will be used for community college campuses, as well as new buildings and renovations for the state university system. The balance of funds will be used for local infrastructure, parks, the North Carolina Zoo, the National Guard and the state Department of Agriculture.
- Support was overwhelming for the bill, as voters said they believed the addition of two million residents since 2000 necessitated an infrastructure overhaul, according to the Associated Press. Gov. Pat McCrory wanted lawmakers to approve a larger bond package that would include state road projects as well, but the legislature rejected that plan and will fund state projects with transportation funds instead.
The only real critics of the bill, the AP reported, were those who thought the state should pay for some of the infrastructure improvements included in the bond without borrowing. State officials said they do not expect to have to raise taxes to pay back the bond debt and, in fact, believe that the state’s debt load will be even less by 2020, borrowing included.
The state university system is the greatest beneficiary of the bill, with $980 million going toward those improvements and repairs, including a $110 million science building at Western Carolina University, a $105 million nursing school building at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and a $154 million plant sciences building at North Carolina State University. The state’s community colleges will split $350 million, and cities and towns will receive more than $305 million in loans and grants for local water and sewer projects.
Doug Carlson, president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors’ Carolinas chapter, said that the work on bond projects could begin in the next six months. "Our biggest challenge is going to be finding craft workers, which is already a challenge," he told ENR.
The Associated General Contractors of America reported this month that there continues to be an overall demand for construction workers in the U.S. and that, in the face of good prospects for a steady stream of future construction work, contractors have ongoing concerns about the availability of enough skilled workers.