US infrastructure spending starts 2023 with a bang

Projects, investments and inaugurations as the country gets going again

The U.S. construction sector has started 2023 on the right foot, sustained by the sudden acceleration of the non-residential segment and particularly by large infrastructure projects.  According to many analysts, 2023 should bring sizable increases in investments and the development of long term projects that state administrations had been considering for some time.

A Dodge Construction report shows a 27% increase in new starts in December 2022, the first rise since 2017. Much of this leap was due to the start of construction of large projects such as the Golden Triangle Ethylene Cracker plant, worth $8.5 billion in Orange, Texas; AltAir/World Energy’s new $2 billion renewable energy facility in Paramount, California;  the Champlain Hudson Power Express power line in New York, a $2.2 billion project; a New Fortress Energy Louisiana LNG terminal in Grand Isle, worth $1.2 billion; and the $535 million solar power plant by Black Diamond in Illinois.

The new business of college stadiums

The main engine propelling sports infrastructure this year are college stadiums, with $1.7 billion worth of investment, matching 2022’s record. This includes large restructuring projects for Oregon State, Nebraska and Texas A&M.

Another boost comes from the $28,5 billion in projects in various stages of development to build stadiums such as the ones for the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, New York, and the soccer stadium for Miami FC.

The restyling of large sports arenas goes hand in hand with the construction of new roads all over the country, and especially in Florida where the sustainable mobility infrastructure sector is particularly active given the huge increase in residents over the last decade. The Sunshine state has surpassed New York to third place with 21 million people, after Texas (28 million) and California (38 million).

Florida's expansion and Lane Construction's projects

2023 began in Florida with new bids for tender, such as the one worth $218 million won by Lane Construction, part of the Webuild group, to increase the capacity and improve the mobility and safety of the intersection between Interstate 4 (I-4) and Sand Lake Road (State Road 482) in Orange County. The route is part of the well known Orlando tourist corridor linking some of the main attractions such as Universal Studios, Sea World and, of course, Disney World.

Lane plays an important role in the renewed attention to infrastructure in Florida. It’s projects include the expansion of the I-275 to improve the flow of goods and people in the Tampa area. In Orlando it is working on the ring road of the intersection between the I-4, the SR 417 and the new Wekiva Parkway, while in Osceola it is completing the Poinciana Parkway.

Another boost in 2023 for the infrastructure industry came at the end of January from the White House’s Mega Grant (National Infrastructure Project Assistance) assigning $1.2 billion in federal funds to nine projects.

“From the Hoover Dam to the Golden Gate Bridge, some infrastructure projects are so large and complex that they defy traditional funding systems—and so significant that they become iconic parts of the American landscape,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “After receiving over one hundred applications, we are proud to fund these nine infrastructure megaprojects across the country to create jobs, strengthen our supply chains, expand our economy, and renew America’s built landscape.”

All the projects receiving federal funds

Among the major projects included in the Mega Grant are improvements to the Brent Spence bridge linking Cincinnati, Ohio and Covington, Kentucky, next to which a new bridge will be built, costing $250 million. This corridor over the Ohio river registers a flow of goods worth $400 billion a year and is today one of the worst bottle necks for trucks in the nation. Some $292 million are destined for the Hudson Yards Concrete Casing, Section 3, in New York, which will build the concrete casing of the new Hudson River Tunnel, the much anticipated Gateway rail project that will speed Amtrak trains on the North East corridor, which serves 17% of the U.S. population. The Mega Grant will also pay for the substitution of the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge, in Parish, Louisiana, costing $150 million, and the Alligator River Bridge between Dare and Tyrell counties in North Carolina, at $110 million. The latter is a movable bridge and a critical getaway during hurricane evacuations. It will be substituted with a modern fixed bridge for cars, bicycles and pedestrians.