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    Construction Dive: Crane Watch: High-profile projects underway in the 10 busiest US markets

    October 04, 2019


    by Jenn Goodman

    Despite labor shortages and rising material costs, the U.S. construction industry is booming from coast to coast, but certain markets are experiencing more activity than others.

    A new report from research firm GlobalData identifies the states with the most public and private construction projects, both in development and under construction. Of the more than 11,200 U.S. projects the company is tracking, 10 states have captured about 60% of the $3.7 trillion those projects represent. 

    The types of projects in each state run the gamut from transportation to energy and utility, mixed-use and infrastructure. Below, Construction Dive rounds up some of the most high-profile construction projects in each of these booming states.

    CALIFORNIA

    In the busiest state for construction projects, one of the busiest jobsites is the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which is in the midst of $14 billion worth of upgrades and additions.

    A consortium of construction companies broke ground in March on a $4.9 billion automated people mover (APM) system at the airport. The LINXS consortium, led by Fluor, is constructing the system, which is expected to transport up to 30 million passengers per year between airport terminals.

    LINXS, which also includes ACS Infrastructure Development, Balfour Beatty, Bombardier Transportation, Dragados USA, Flatiron and Hochtief PPP Solutions, is expected to have the APM operational by 2023. The design and build phase is just under $2 billion, but LAX payments to LINXS during the 25-year operations and maintenance phase bring the total contract value for LINXS up to almost $5 billion. 

    Other projects at the airport include a $1.6 billion American Airlines terminal, a $1.8 billion Delta terminal and the new $1.6 billion Midfield Satellite Concourse, which will connect 12 new gates to the Tom Bradley International Terminal via a 1,000-foot tunnel. 

    TEXAS

    GlobalData found that the Lone Star state has the most energy and utility projects of any other state, at almost $153 billion. Those sectors have driven the state's construction pipeline to more than $425 billion, an amount which also includes mixed-used developments (roughly $68 billion) and infrastructure projects (around $67 billion). 

    One of the largest energy projects in the state is the $10 billion LNG export facility that Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum awarded to McDermott International in March, along with joint venture partners Chiyoda International Corp. and Zachry Group. McDermott said the facility in Sabine Pass will have three 5.2-million-tons-per-year trains and that the team will provide engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning services. 

    Two other big energy-related projects in the state include a fourth liquefaction train at an LNG terminal in Freeport and the Carlyle Group’s crude oil export terminal on Harbor Island. That project, according to some reports, is valued at up to $1.2 billion.

    NEW YORK

    The Empire State is the third busiest U.S. construction market, with $409 billion worth of projects in the works.

    The New York hotel market is booming these days and one hotel that’s under construction in Manhattan stands out for its use of off-site construction techniques. Marriott International is building the world’s tallest modular hotel in New York City, the $65 million, 360-foot tall AC Hotel New York NoMad. The hotel is scheduled to be ready for final on-site assembly in late fall and set to open in late 2020. 

    The 168 prefabricated guest rooms will arrive on-site fully finished inside and outside and ready to be stacked on top of a traditionally built restaurant and lobby. The assembly of the modular units should take 90 days. Topping off the 26-story structure will be a modular roof and rooftop bar.  

    Another New York City hotel development, the Hard Rock Hotel in Manhattan, is underway again after a change of the project's general contractor. AECOM Tishman reportedly took over recently for Plaza Construction.  

    The New York Post quoted sources that indicated Extell Development, which is building the hotel in partnership with Hard Rock International, was unhappy with Plaza and the bureaucracy it had to go through to get routine project-related approvals from its Chinese owner, China Construction America, a subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering Corp.

    FLORIDA

    The Sunshine State ranks fourth on the list of hottest construction markets, and for good reason. Current works in progress include airport expansions, highway megaprojects, bridge and pier renovations, and even a $6 million aquarium addition. 

    In Miami, commuters are getting ready for four years of traffic headaches, namely from the $802 million “signature” bridge project that will see the reconstruction of portions of Interstate 395, Interstate 95 and State Road 836, which feed downtown Miami, the city’s Civic Center district and Miami Beach. Work began earlier this year and the estimated completion date is Fall 2023.

    Joint venture Archer Western-de Moya Group, the design-build joint contractor for the project, and the Florida Department of Transportation have stated that they will do their best to minimize disruption to motorists during construction and have set up a website to keep the public informed. 

    Work on SR 836 includes double-decking a portion of the road that connects to I-395. Crews will also add an auxiliary lane to I-95, replace concrete pavement and build a new connector ramp to SR 836. The I-395 portion of the project includes the six-arch bridge. The spaces under I-395 will be transformed into a lush community space with a market plaza, amphitheater, children’s play area, community garden, trail and pedestrian bridge, dog park and interactive water fountain. 

    WASHINGTON

    One of the largest projects in Washington was recently awarded to a Midwest contractor. In May, Nebraska-based construction and engineering firm Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. was tapped for a $1.4 billion contract to design and build a 7.8-mile extension of the Seattle-area Federal Way Link light-rail system from Kent, Washington, to Federal Way, Washington. 

    While two other companies submitted proposals, the Sound Transit committee chose Kiewit based on the technical evaluation and the price score equation of its proposal, according to Sound Transit documents.

    In addition to the guideway, Kiewit will design and build three light-rail stations and parking garages. Construction is expected to start in early 2020 and be completed in 2024.

    ILLINOIS

    Industry watchers are keeping an eye on several planned upgrades to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, partly because of the high-profile nature of one of the contracting firms involved. Last year, the city of Chicago selected Elon Musk's The Boring Co. to build an express train from downtown to O'Hare International Airport, although the plan has drawn skepticism from residents and city officials about whether it will actually open.

    Other plans for the airport include demolishing Terminal 2 and building a global terminal that United Airlines and American Airlines will share for domestic and international flights. Other work, which ultimately will increase the airport’s space by 3 million square feet, includes renovating three existing terminals, adding 25% more parking spaces and 35 new gates, and replacing 40 gates.

    Last November, five architect teams — Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza Joint Venture Partners, Foster Unlink Epstein Moreno JV Joint Venture Partners, Santiago Calatrava LLC, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners — were named to the short list to design the airport’s $8.7 billion expansion.

    PENNSYLVANIA 

    Several large health care projects are taking shape in the sixth busiest state for construction. For instance, the $1.5 billion Penn Medicine Pavilion under construction at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is the largest capital project ever for the university. 

    The 1.5 million-square-foot center is the most comprehensive project on the East Coast to use an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) approach, which means that the owner and team members — made up of Balfour Beatty, BR+A, Foster+Partners, HDR, LF Driscoll and others — are aligned by a single contract. Set to be complete in 2021, the 17-story hospital in downtown Philadelphia will include 500 private rooms, an inpatient care unit for heart and vascular patients, neurology and neurosurgery units, a cancer center and an emergency department. 

    In addition, The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) announced last fall a $2 billion investment in three new Pittsburgh specialty hospitals — a vision and rehabilitation hospital, a tech-driven heart and transplant facility and a cancer center.

    The health care system solicited bids for architects, reviewed conceptual presentations and awarded each of the three hospitals to a different firm. HOK's 410,000-square-foot, nine-story Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital at UPMC Mercy will serve patients with limited mobility and impaired vision and will include clinical, research and teaching space.

    The Heart and Transplant Hospital at UPMC Presbyterian, the design of which was awarded to HGA, will feature 900,000 square feet, 18 stories and 620 rooms, which will be customized with digital technology and modern communication systems.

    Meanwhile, NBBJ won the design contract for the Hillman Cancer Hospital at UPMC Shadyside, and that facility will feature 240,000 square feet, an eight-story patient tower, 180 private rooms, a 160,000-square-foot outpatient center and diagnostic, treatment and research center.

    GEORGIA

    Construction is underway on a 2 million-square-foot lithium battery factory in Jackson County from South Korean battery company SK Innovation. Expected to be completed in two 1 million-square-foot phases, construction of the $1.67 billion plant began in March and will wrap up in 2022, according to the Times Free Press. SK supplies batteries for customers such as Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai-Kia Motors, both of which have assembly plants in nearby Alabama.

    According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the SK Innovation project is the state’s largest economic development deal in a decade. 

    OHIO

    Columbus, Ohio, MLS soccer team Columbus Crew SC recently unveiled renderings for its new 20,000 seat downtown stadium that's scheduled to break ground on Oct. 10. In addition to serving as Crew SC’s new home, the stadium is set to include the first supporters’ beer garden in Major League Soccer and a brew hall that will be open on non-game days.

    Beyond the stadium, the project includes a 40,000 square feet outdoor plaza which will be open to the public. 

    The stadium will include a steep seating bowl, designed to put fans close to the action. Similarly, the stadium’s wrap-around roof will provide protection over each stand and amplify the noise back to the pitch, helping enhance the atmosphere, according to the team. 

    NORTH CAROLINA

    Last year’s Hurricane Florence left behind approximately $3.6 billion of damage at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville. The U.S. Marine Corps says that roughly 31 structures must be demolished and replaced with new construction, amounting to $2 billion. Repairs to existing buildings are expected to cost $1.3 billion, and remaining funds will go toward replacing destroyed IT systems, among other repairs. 

    Up to 70% of the base’s homes were damaged and AP News reported nearly 5,000 military personnel and their family members have been displaced. Water and roof damage across many buildings also have resulted in the formation of mold.

    Although full funding for the renovations has not yet been approved, in April, Congress agreed to provide $400 million after Commandant Gen. Robert Neller wrote a memo to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer describing the damage to the base. 


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