Our 10 best stories of 2018
As 2018 comes to a close, Construction Dive is looking back on some of the most impactful storylines from the past 365 days. Construction had a huge year, with major companies announcing strategic shifts in their plans and OSHA’s much-debated silica rule taking effect and being enforced.
The year also had some difficult moments, including the collapse of the pedestrian bridge in Florida that killed six. Meanwhile, billions of dollars continue to pour into mega projects, including many sporting venues, mixed-use projects and airports.
Take a look back at these 10 stories.
AECOM’s fourth quarter earnings call was filled with big news about its operations. It first announced its intent to leave 30 country markets to instead focus on prioritizing investment in its largest growth markets where it has the most competitive advantage.
AECOM also announced a shakeup in its leadership in the Construction Services division because of “avoidable and unacceptable” issues that negatively impacted its fiscal year. Chief Operating Officer Randy Wotring will lead the division and AECOM confirmed to Construction Dive that Dan McQuade, who had served as president of the segment, is no longer with the company.
Both strategic actions are aimed to increase profitability, derisk the business and prioritize investments in its highest-growth markets, the construction giant said. Read More »
This year marked Bechtel’s 20th consecutive year at the top of Engineering News-Record’s Top 400 contractors list, which was based on 2017 gross construction revenue. Fluor Corp. and Turner Corp. maintained their number two and three rankings, respectively.
As contractors frequently look to the most dominant players in their space to get a feel for the market, it also comes as no surprise that the Top 10 commercial construction companies is one of the pages of Construction Dive that readers continually seek out more than any other. That list is updated each year with details about the top 10 contractors from ENR’s Top 400 list. Read More »
After losing an estimated $100 million on two major public private partnerships (P3s), Skanska announced that its U.S. division would no longer pursue “mega design-build PPP” projects. Skanska also announced that Don Fusco would take over Richard Cavallaro’s position as president of Skanska’s USA civil division. Although Skanska won’t pursue future design-build P3s, it still plans to bid and perform other alternative delivery methods on U.S. infrastructure projects, including design-build.
In its third-quarter earnings call, Skanska president and CEO Anders Danielsson said that the company is being more selective about which projects to pursue as it chooses to only bid on projects that are within its "sweet spot" as it pursues profitability over volume. Read More »
Stadium construction comes with price tags in the millions of dollars and, in some cases, even billions. Popping up alongside many stadiums are mixed-use developments so that professional sports teams also can offer retail, hotel, entertainment, outdoor recreation space and residential components around their venues.
Sports-driven mixed-use projects around the country abound, with at least five currently underway, including:
- Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Charters. Cost: $5 billion
- Globe Life Field and Texas Live! Entertainment District for the MLB’s Texas Rangers. Cost: $5.3 billion
- Chase Center and Golden State Warriors Mixed-use Development for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. Cost: $1 billion
- Mission Rock for the MLB San Francisco Giants. Cost: $1 billion to $1.6 billion
- Ballpark Village Phase I and Phase II for the MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals. Cost: $360 million. Read More »
Six months after OSHA started enforcing its silica safety rule, it and state safety agencies issued a combined 116 violation citations, with the most frequent being contractors allegedly failing to measure silica levels. Other oft-cited violations revolved around contractors neglecting to comply with the regulation’s Table 1, which identifies 18 procedures firms can follow as an alternative to air monitoring.
Despite frequent citations, however, rule enforcement has been limited and contractors were tagged for silica violations as part of investigations into other unsafe jobsite conditions. Most — 80% — violations were classified as “serious,” but the highest fine as of April 17 was $9,239, far from the potential $12,934 maximum.
As the year progressed, however, OSHA became more aggressive in its enforcement. Among the top fines OSHA levied since May, Marion, Virginia-based Lanford Bros. Inc. was slapped with a $304,130 fine for five citations related to the silica dust exposure standard, including two serious violations for improper eye or face protection and not providing proper silica dust training.
Silica remains a hot topic year to year, as one of 2017’s top-performing stories — What contractors need to know about OSHA’s new silica rule — once again topped interest in 2018. Read More »
Construction Dive highlights five women impacting the construction industry each year during Women in Construction week, held the first week of March. Last year’s profiles spanned women from Jennifer Vides, a superintendent with Turner Construction and relative newcomer to construction, to Stacey Pray, who owns a construction project management firm and says she is at the tail end of her career and thinking about succession planning.
The invidivuals represented in the group that Construction Dive profiled both last year and also in 2017 have established themselves as leaders in their fields and often strive to improve diversity within their teams, companies and industry as a whole. (Know of a woman in construction that Construction Dive should cover in its next edition of this annual feature, in March? Nominate her here). Read More »
Construction Dive’s annual awards program recognizes top industry innovators, movers and shakers shaping the future of construction. This year is not only about industry giants. Steady innovation and dedication helped smaller firms build quite a name for themselves over the year.
Overseeing such mega-projects as the World Trade Center, One Vanderbilt and the Los Angeles Rams stadium, Jay Badame of AECOM demonstrates a commitment to customers that brings repeat work.
Hoar Construction of Alabama has grown its revenue to nearly $1 billion a year through a calculated strategy, retaining the commitment to people that is signature to its close-knit culture.
Construction unicorn Katerra made headlines this year with one partnership after the next while Prescient, another tech-driven offsite firm, quietly scaled to deliver 18-story buildings. Finally, the Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Barrier project draws on unique historical roots, with the noble goal of saving lives while preserving an iconic landmark. Read More »
Meant to showcase Accelerated Bridge Construction methods used during its fabrication, the 174-foot, 950-ton span at the Florida International University collapsed just days after its installation, falling on traffic below it, killing six people and injuring several others.
The story continued to develop through the year. One survivor filed a civil lawsuit against the companies involved in the design and construction. The suit seeks $15,000 of damages and claims reckless negligence on the part of FIGG Bridge Engineers and Munilla Construction Management, which oversaw the project as its design-build team. Bolton Perez & Associates, the consulting engineer for the project, is also named in the suit.
The National Transportation Safety Board in November pointed to design errors as a factor in the bridge’s collapse, although the preliminary report stopped short of naming those flaws as the cause of the failure. Read More »
Transportation terminals are a huge part of the construction economy, with transportation terminals posting a 61% year-over-year increase. Globally, airport construction projects are valued at more than $737 billion as these facilities aim to process more passengers, get more planes flying and make travel more comfortable and efficient. The biggest airport expansion projects underway:
- Al Maktoum Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Cost: $32.6 billion
- Heathrow Airport in London. Cost: $18.5 billion
- Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles. Cost: $14 billion
- Beijing Daxing International Airport in Beijing. Cost: $13 billion
- John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Cost: $13 billion
- Istanbul Ataturk Airport in Turkey. Cost: $12 billion
Since publication, however, Mexico’s president elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador put the airport’s continuation to a vote and voters opted to abandon the under-construction airport for a less ambitious project that would keep the existing airport and add a terminal and two runways to a military base north of Mexico City. Canceling the project cost an estimated $5 billion. Read More »
New York City’s construction costs are the highest in the world, and one of the reasons for this is corruption — in the form of overbilling, bid-rigging and more. In the past few years, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has taken on a campaign of quashing bribery, fraud and other illegal activities by construction and engineering companies in the New York City market.
One of the top cases this year, which made news in February, involved certain Bloomberg LP and Turner executives allegedly taking bribes and kickbacks from subcontractors during a renovation of the media company’s Manhattan offices.
This month, DA Vance announced indictments of several executives, as well as complicit subcontractors and vendors, on charges of conspiracy, bribery, bid-rigging and more. Collectively, they reportedly swindled Bloomberg out of $15 million. Read More »