New Construction Starts Climb 21 Percent; Highways Soar

New construction starts in October climbed 21 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $864.0 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The substantial increase followed three straight months of decline, during which the pace of total construction starts fell 22 percent from the exceptionally strong volume reported back in June. 

Nonbuilding construction in October was $184.0 billion (annual rate), up 14 percent following September’s 13 percent decline. The electric utility/gas plant category increased 187 percent relative to a very weak September, although October’s volume was still 32 percent less than the average monthly pace reported during 2017. Large electric utility projects that reached groundbreaking in October were a $334 million wind farm in Kansas and a $300 million wind farm in Minnesota.  

The public works categories as a group rose 6 percent in October, with a varied performance by individual category. Highway and bridge construction starts climbed 26 percent, with October coming in as the highest seasonally adjusted monthly amount so far in 2018. 

Large highway and bridge projects in October were led by the $1.3 billion U.S. portion of the Gordie Howe International Bridge (estimated at $2.6 billion in U.S. dollars for the entire bridge), connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. 

Other large highway and bridge projects in October were the $802 million I-395 project in Miami and the $673 million I-10 Corridor project in San Bernardino, Calif. 

The top five states ranked by the dollar amount of highway and bridge construction starts in October were – Texas, Michigan, Florida, California and Pennsylvania. 

River/harbor development in October advanced 114 percent, reflecting a $210 million harbor dredging project in Jacksonville, Fla. Water supply construction grew 30 percent in October, boosted by a $121 million water supply conduit project in Burbank, Calif.  

The miscellaneous public works category pulled back 33 percent in October from its heightened September pace, which included the $1.4 billion Arbuckle II natural gas pipeline in Texas and Oklahoma, as well as the $1.1 billion Cactus II oil pipeline in Texas. 

The October data did include the start of one major pipeline project – the $2.0 billion Gray Oak oil pipeline that will transport crude oil from the Permian Basin to the Corpus Christi, Texas, area. 

Through the first 10 months of 2018, pipeline construction starts totaled $19.3 billion, down only 8 percent from the robust amount during the same period of 2017. Sewer construction also retreated in October, falling 40 percent.

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