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Projects Abound Across Texas, Louisiana in 2014

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Growth lies ahead for construction in Texas and Louisiana in a variety of sectors. For example, residential work in the south central region, encompassing Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas, is expected to grow by 22% in 2014 to $55.85 billion, according to McGraw Hill Construction's 2014 Construction Outlook. Meanwhile, nonresidential work in the region will be up 6% to $34.54 billion next year.

Photo by Kevin Stillman/Texas Dept. of Transportation
Roadwork: The approximately 13-mile LBJ Express project encompasses improvements along IH-635 from Luna Road to Greenville Ave. as well as on IH-35E between Loop 12 and Valwood Parkway.
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Combined, total construction across these states is projected to rise 8% in 2014, up to $116.85 billion, with plenty of work in Texas and Louisiana.

Texas Steady

As always, the energy sector is a huge factor in Texas. Prospects for pipeline work, for one, are promising, thanks to the natural gas boom, according to MHC's outlook. Forthcoming projects include the $2-billion Echo Terminal and Houston Pipelines and the $1.5-billion Eagle Ford Pipeline.

"There seems to be more private commercial work being put in place here toward the latter end, the second half of the year, but there is still a limited amount of public-sector work," says Jack Baxley, vice president of government affairs at TEXO. "Public-sector work is still down a little over previous years. A&E firms are busy too, and that's going to translate into an upswing in commercial construction as we go forward in 2014. The market will tick upward in 2014 also with some of the bond issues that have been passed."

Plenty of school bonds are on the horizon after November's election. Voters approved two bonds totaling $490 million for the Austin Independent School District, for example.

"All three propositions within Fort Worth ISD's bond program [totaling $490 million] passed overwhelmingly, and that should create a lot of work here for Tarrant County and North Texas contractors," Baxley adds.

November's election means good things for Texas construction beyond 2014 as well. A major bond that passed statewide was Prop. 6, which establishes a State Water Implementation Fund for Texas, which will take $2 billion from the state's Rainy Day Fund. SWIFT will provide low-cost financing for projects in the state.

Allocation of those funds will take some time to reach owners and contractors. Prioritization of projects isn't due until September 2014, so funding itself isn't likely to hit the street until late 2014, early 2015.

"We've seen more health care projects this year," adds Brian Freeman, executive vice president for Skanska.

Now that the industry knows what's going on with the health care bill, projects that owners have been sitting on are now starting to get pushed back out to start.

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