December 2, 2016 12:30 PM, EST
ARTBA: Transportation Construction Market to See Modest Growth

Increases next year in private highway and bridge construction activity across residential and commercial developments will help transportation construction to grow by 1.3%, a leading transportation economist indicated Dec. 2.

The market for next year is likely to reach $247.8 billion, up from $244.5 billion in 2016, said Alison Premo Black, chief economist with the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

Black indicated the increases in federal funding levels are expected to be modest. The growth would entail public and private investments in highways, transit, rail, ports, waterways and bridges. For the public bridge and tunnel construction market, Black said that it could decrease next year from $33.3 billion to $32.9 billion. Then, the public bridge and tunnel market would resume real growth in 2018.

Black’s outlook was influenced by news that the U.S. Congress would continue funding the federal government at current levels through next spring and not at the approved increases for fiscal 2017. Doing so would delay a $900 million increase for transportation accounts.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters this week the funding extension would last through late spring. Senior Democrats on the House transportation committee urged Ryan to ensure the short-term funding bill — likely to be unveiled early next week — reflects last year’s congressionally approved increases in infrastructure investments. The government’s funding authority expires Dec. 9.