In today’s construction news, read about highway officials in Louisiana having received a $88.3 million loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation to assist in funding the construction of a bridge that would connect La. 1 and La. 415, allowing drivers to travel between the two roads without entering Interstate 10. On the other hand, public funds will contribute to the multibillion-dollar cost of the latest wave of stadium buildings for professional sports teams around the nation. Lastly, based on a recent report by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), immigrants are contributing to the labor shortage that has beset the building sector since the pandemic’s start. The percentage of foreign-born Americans working in the construction industry reached a record 25% last year, the highest level since the housing boom of 2005–06.
A Loan is Provided by the US Department of Transportation to Build the LA-1/LA-415 Link Bridge
The U.S. Department of Transportation loaned Louisiana transportation officials $88.3 million to build a bridge connecting La. 1 and La. 415 without using Interstate 10.
The four-lane, 2.6-mile road would cross the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. About $268 million is its anticipated cost.
Building the route by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has been proposed for decades. Since his election in the early 2000s, West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley “Peewee” Berthelot has promoted this initiative. For decades, the proposed freeway has been debated.
The 1962 West Baton Rouge master plan included a bridge at the 415 and a southward route. State DOTD completed a feasibility study in 1989. “I bought it in 2002 and we started working on it,” Berthelot remarked.
The new route will also help during hurricanes and other disasters, claimed a federal transportation official.
According to Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg, the project will improve resiliency and safety by providing a direct connection and evacuation route for neighborhoods south of I-10. The additional access west of La. 1 will boost rural communities’ and companies’ economic growth.”
Construction on the La. 415 link is expected in late 2025 or early 2026. The project should be finished by late 2028.
DOTD used BP oil spill settlement money to get the government loan.
A New Wave of Sports Facilities is Being Built in the US
American professional sports teams are building new stadiums, and taxpayers will pay for the multi-billion-dollar project.
Teams have pursued repairs and lavish extensions throughout the construction boom. Even while debt from the last repairs two decades ago is being paid off, some teams have sought new public money for the projects with uneven success.
The Associated Press counted 12 MLB and NFL stadium projects disclosed or underway this year. Additional projects for professional basketball, hockey, and soccer clubs are excluded.
The stadium project cycle and reasons are examined here.
EVERYMONTH A NEW PROJECT
As 2023 began, multi-year stadium improvements for the New Orleans Saints and Toronto Blue Jays were underway. More teams followed, about one per month.
— The Cleveland Guardians announced a $200 million, three-year baseball stadium restoration in January, including public assistance.
A former suburban horse racing track was purchased by the Chicago Bears in February for a new football stadium and development. This is despite the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority owing $589 million through 2032 on public bonds issued 20 years ago to renovate the Bears’ stadium.
— The Nashville City Council approved $760 million in local bonds and $500 million in state bonds in April to finance a $2.1 billion Tennessee Titans football stadium. The Titans agreed to pay off $30 million of public debt for their 1999 stadium as part of the accord.
The Buffalo Bills started building a new stadium in May. The AP reported in August that cost overruns had raised the projected price from $1.4 billion to roughly $1.7 billion. The $850 million New York and Erie County share remains.
In June, the Jacksonville Jaguars disclosed plans to restore its football stadium for up to $1.4 billion, with $700 million going into surrounding development. The Jaguars want a 50-50 financial split with the city, like the one used to develop an amphitheater and practice facility. Those projects’ $38 million public debt won’t be paid off until 2047.
— The Kansas City Royals revealed two $1 billion baseball stadium choices in August as part of a $2 billion proposal that may include hundreds of millions of public cash. Royals owner John Sherman wants a new stadium by 2028. That would leave Jackson County, Missouri, three years to pay the $265 million public debt from the recent improvements to the Royals and Chiefs’ side-by-side stadiums.
In September, the Tampa Bay Rays announced plans for a $1.3 billion baseball stadium as part of a $6.5 billion St. Petersburg, Florida, development that includes housing, commerce, dining, and a Black history museum. The team expects $730 million from the city and county.
Major League Baseball owners approved the Oakland Athletics’ Las Vegas move in November. That happened five months after Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo signed a $380 million public funding law for a $1.5 billion stadium. The A’s California stadium’s $13.5 million public debt won’t be paid off until February 2025.
— Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed a $500 million measure in December to repair the 2001 Milwaukee Brewers baseball stadium.
Later in December, the Baltimore Ravens announced a three-year, $430 million stadium redevelopment.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Carolina Panthers, and Cincinnati Bengals are also considering stadium improvements, but without precise plans.
Stadium Case Study: Mixed Results
Georgia’s professional baseball and football clubs moved to new stadiums in 2017.
The Atlanta Falcons moved into a $1.6 billion downtown stadium built with hundreds of millions of public dollars next to their 25-year-old one, which collapsed.
A suburban ballpark replaced the Atlanta Braves’ 1996 Olympics-built downtown stadium. Cobb County provided $300 million, less than half of the new stadium’s cost.
As elsewhere, findings were mixed.
Kennesaw State University economist J.C. Bradbury examined the Braves’ migration to a stadium surrounded by housing, retail, entertainment, and business projects. He discovered that municipal sales tax collection increased with economic activity, but not enough to offset stadium subsidies.
Some residents were disappointed they couldn’t vote on the subsidies that funded it. The Cobb County Board of Commissioners chair lost re-election in 2016.
DO OR DO NOT MOVE
The danger that sports teams would leave often helps stadium projects acquire political backing. Although rare, many relocations have occurred in the past decade.
The St. Louis Rams moved from their publicly funded dome to a lavish, privately funded Los Angeles stadium in 2020. They share the stadium with the Chargers, who left San Diego.
Las Vegas Raiders moved from Oakland, California, to a new stadium in Las Vegas that year, leaving a taxpayer-funded renovation in the 1990s to draw them back from Los Angeles. After being authorized to move, the A’s used the same stadium.
Wisconsin lawmakers explored public funding to renovate the Brewers’ ballpark, but some worried they might move. MLB officials said that the organization was not “trying to create free-agent markets” so “owners can get top dollars.”
“Our preference is to keep the franchises where they are,” Bob Starkey, MLB CFO, stated. But eventually, we won’t do something short-sighted.”
More Immigrants Work in US construction Than Ever
Original Source: Immigrants make up more of the US construction labor force than ever
National Association of Home Builders data shows that immigrants are helping the building industry make up for the manpower deficit since the pandemic. Last year, 25% of construction workers were foreign-born, the most since the 2005-06 building bubble.
Immigrants work more overall. Foreign-born workers have surpassed pre-pandemic levels of labor force participation, while non-immigrants are catching up.
How come more immigrants work in construction?
Erica Groshen, senior economic advisor at Cornell University’s Institute for Compensation Studies and former BLS commissioner, believes a hot labor market in 2022 and 2023 attracted non-immigrant workers to less physically demanding industries.
“If people are getting more opportunities elsewhere, then fewer native-born people are applying for those jobs,” Groshen said. “US-born people have opportunities that will make them more money or safer.” That implies immigrants can fill more jobs.
Foreign-born construction workers at risk
Immigrants have a higher workplace injury and death rate. The BLS reported that immigrant Latino workers—documented and undocumented—made up 8% of the US labor force in 2021 but 14% of job-related deaths and 27% of construction-related deaths.
Ligia Guallpa, executive director of the Worker’s Justice Project in New York City, said immigrant workers had limited access to union-run construction apprenticeships, which offer more training and instruction. Most enter construction as day laborers or gig workers.
According to Guallpa, the least-trained workers are more likely to accept the most unsafe job conditions.
The economic impact of the building labor shortage
Although more immigrants worked in construction last year, the industry has yet to recover from its personnel shortfall. The job vacancies rate is somewhat higher than 2019.
“Compared to the peak employment levels of 2006, construction is short 525,000 native-born workers [as of 2022] and new immigrants only partially close the gap,” noted NAHB researcher and economist Natalia Siniavskaia.
The sector’s labor shortfall affects many. Industry workforce shortages will make it harder for the US to accomplish 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law projects. With fewer labor, projects are delayed and firms hire less-qualified individuals to fill the gap, lowering product quality.
Tightening the labor market boosts worker compensation and bargaining strength. The Association of General Contractors said that US construction workers’ earnings climbed 5% in 2022, one percentage point more than the overall workforce. Year-end 2023 wages are predicted to rise 4.4%.
Summary of today’s construction news
To put it simply, the new road will be beneficial during hurricanes and other disasters, according to a federal transportation official. It is projected that work on the La. 415 link project will begin in late 2025 or early 2026. It is anticipated that the project will be substantially finished by late 2028.
On the other hand, a number of other teams, including the football teams of the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals and the baseball teams of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles, are also investigating stadium improvements, though they do not yet have any concrete plans.
Lastly, immigrants have a higher workplace injury and death rate. Both documented and unauthorized Latino immigrants worked in 2021. Ligia Guallpa, executive director of the Worker’s Justice Project in New York City, said immigrant workers had limited access to union-run construction apprenticeships, which offer more training and instruction. Most enter construction as day laborers or gig workers.