Good Start to the New Year

The first few weeks of the year have historically been a reasonably good indicator for the kind of year that will follow – maybe a 60/40 track record. When I owned the Pittsburgh Construction News it was normal for bidding activity to trickle in for the first couple of weeks and then take off in February some time. Judging from the Pittsburgh Builders Exchange list of active projects, that appears to be the case in 2014. Volume is about half what it will be in March/April.

What is unusual thus far in 2014 is the number of bigger projects that are out to bid at the beginning of the year. There’s a little something across the board. Forest Hills School District outside Johnstown has a $46 million new school bidding at the end of January and the $15 million Carmichaels Elementary bids Feb. 10. The new $20 million state office building in Clarksburg WV bids Feb. 7. There are a couple $10-15 million PennDOT jobs in the western PA letting on Jan. 30 (along with a $250 bridge outside Philly). Pitt has the $23 million upgrade to the Clapp-Langley-Crawford complex out to pre-qualified bidders on Jan. 30.

In the private sector, CMU is expected to ask for construction management proposals shortly for its $75 million + Tepper School project, which is still in the architectural selection phase. Jacobs Engineering took qualifications from contractors this week for what it described as a large project in western PA. Jacobs has been reportedly hired to handle the demolition/decommissioning of the Horseheads plant and preparation for the petrochemical facility for Shell in Monaca. This would be consistent with what Shell announced when it extended its option for the property with Horseheads Corp. None of the activity means Shell is committed to the project – Jacobs could even be pre-qualifying contractors for another project – but activity is preferable to inactivity.

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