Nonbuilding Construction

Nonbuilding construction dropped 6 percent in October to $159.2 billion (annual rate). The decline was the result of a sharp downturn for electric utility construction, which fell 75 percent in October after experiencing a brief spike in activity during September.

There were two large electric utility projects that reached the start stage in October, a $750 million natural gas-fired power plant in Texas and a $200 million wind farm in Michigan, but these were smaller in scale than the large utility projects entered as September starts.

The public works categories combined were up 28 percent in October, due primarily to a 326 percent surge for bridge construction that reflected $2.8 billion for the start of structural work on the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project across the Hudson River in the Tarrytown, N.Y., area. Earlier, site work totaling $300 million for this project had been reported, bringing the estimated construction start cost for the entire project to $3.1 billion.

October gains were also reported for sewer construction, up 45 percent with the help of a $263 million waste water treatment plant in Maryland, and highway construction, up 8 percent.

Moving in the opposite direction, miscellaneous public works fell 4 percent in October, although it did include the $440 million Northgate Link Extension vehicle tunnel in Seattle. Steeper declines in October were reported for water supply systems, down 20 percent; and river/harbor development, down 50 percent.

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