Spotlight on Heavy Civil Construction

Blog 71 Heavy CivilBy Brian Binke

It’s a good time to be involved with the construction industry. Members of Congress have been discussing legislation that could lead to spending $1.5 trillion on improving the country’s infrastructure. Candidates with the right skills will continue to be in high demand as a number of significant projects have been announced or are already underway. Heavy civil construction recruiters are partnering with relevant companies to find people who are skilled in building everything from roads and bridges to dams and sewers. Here are a few heavy civil construction projects from around the country.

Undergrounding

Industry experts are predicting an increased demand for utilities to be moved underground due to the growing number of mass power outages around the world that are being caused by natural disasters. 2017 was a record-breaking year for hurricane damage with some regions like Puerto Rico still recovering. Storms like Hurricane Maria disrupted entire power grids, leaving many regions without power for months. Construction Dive interviewed an energy executive that said this can be alleviated by putting distribution power lines underground resulting in fewer power outages due to downed trees and branches. It can also help to eliminate other public safety issues, like the danger of electrocution from exposed live wires when power lines run under the ground.

Even though most communities across the United States would prefer to have their distribution lines relocated underground, it can be a costly venture. For instance, putting power lines below ground can cost up to 10 times more than the cost of installing them overhead, depending on how extensive the work is and whether utility crews are burying distribution or higher-voltage transmission lines. Then, underground utilities aren’t immune from other damage caused by other natural disasters like earthquakes or flooding. A more cost-effective approach could be replacing dilapidated wooden poles with concrete ones and trimming surrounding trees on a regular basis.

Rail Projects

Bullet trains and other high-speed rail systems continue to expand across the US. Some of the projects highlighted by Construction Dive include:

  • Texas - The Lone Star State is also working toward its own bullet train. Texas' version proposes a direct shot from Houston to Dallas, transporting passengers between the two in 90 minutes. The $12 billion Texas Central Railway hit a public-relations bump this year when residents along its projected path made complaints about alleged heavy-handed tactics in the land acquisition process. Some Texas legislators hopped on board, introducing 20 bills that offered up various ways to stop or slow down the project's development.
  • New York-New Jersey - Amtrak is laying the tracks for its huge rail initiative along the Northeast Corridor, the $24 billion Gateway Program. The first phase of these projects will be the Hudson River Tunnel project and the replacement of the North and South Portal Bridge spans.

The industry continues to see growth in the heavy civil construction sector, which will likely improve the overall labor shortage that persists. The government’s investment in infrastructure can spur more projects that will put construction professionals back to work and alleviate the country’s ailing bridges and roads.

Brian Binke is the founder and CEO of The Birmingham Group (TBG). TBG is a globally recognized executive search and consulting firm specializing in the construction arena. Over the past 22 years, Brian has established himself as one of the construction industries most respected leaders. He has won numerous awards for his industry innovation and has been recognized as the No. 1 worldwide revenue producing manager for the largest recruitment network of more than 800 independent firms. 

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