In today’s construction news, learn about an independent government study organization that determined that the building of barriers along the southern border of the United States has harmed Indigenous cultural sites, public lands, and delicate ecosystems. Meanwhile, Louisiana State Police Troop B responded to a pedestrian-involved vehicle incident on U.S. Route 90B upper level near MacArthur Avenue in Jefferson Parish shortly after 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 9, 2023. This crash killed Missouri’s 36-year-old David Allen Smith. On the other hand, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., numerous sections of the U.S. 98 Bypass between 7th Street South and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will have lane closures with intermittent flagging and brief traffic stops. September 12 through Thursday, September 14. Lastly, according to an ABC member poll from Aug. 21 to Sept. 6, the Construction Backlog Indicator fell 0.1 month to 9.2 months in August. The reading is 0.5 months above August 2022.

Native American Burial Place Was Harmed by US Border Wall Building

Original Source: US border wall construction damaged Native burial site: Government report

A neutral federal research agency determined that southern border barrier building has destroyed delicate ecosystems, public lands, and Indigenous cultural sites.

On Thursday, the 72-page Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released its first impartial assessment of border wall damage.

Among other harms, government contractors “blasting” a sacred Indigenous grave with explosives and left a slope “in danger of collapse”.

The report covers 2017–2021, the Trump administration. The memo never addresses Trump, but it says federal authorities used national security provisions to evade protections.

About 450 miles [724 km] of US southwest border barriers were developed by federal agencies. In its report, the GAO stated they waived federal environmental and other rules to speed construction.

The building damaged cultural and natural resources by blasting a tribal burial place and disrupting river flows.

The report is the most comprehensive border wall harm study. Immigration is a hot topic in US politics, especially with the 2024 presidential race.

“This report lays bare the damage the wall has inflicted on wildlife, public lands, and Indigenous cultural sites,” Center for Biological Diversity southwest conservation advocate Laiken Jordahl told Al Jazeera.

“This report by a nonpartisan, fact-based agency confirms what we have been alarming about for years.”

Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign focused on building a border wall and blaming immigrants for crime and violence.

Trump campaign rallies featured “Build the wall” chants.

Internationally, those cries are mounting. Over the past two decades, countries including the Dominican Republic, Poland, and India have built more border gates and walls.

The Migration Policy Institute anticipates that 74 border barriers existed worldwide in 2022, up from 12 at the conclusion of the Cold War.

If building is not examined, the GAO report warns of severe environmental and cultural impacts.

“Before building, the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] assessed some potential effects of the construction,” the report’s website stated. “But federal officials and stakeholders said DHS didn’t give them enough information to give meaningful input.”

Construction was difficult by the US’s southern border’s tough terrain, including deserts, mountains, and coastal beaches.

The Trump administration used the 2005 Real ID Act to waive laws and regulations that could impede border wall and road building in selected locations.

The Bush administration cited the Real ID Act five times, but the Trump administration used it 25–30 times.

The Trump administration declared undocumented southern border crossings a national emergency, allowing it to disregard rules for national security.

“The Trump administration cast those laws aside and ploughed forward with no thought about the consequences,” Jordahl said.

That authority permitted the government to disregard Indigenous community objections in locations where it wished to build, such as Quitobaquito Springs, a sacred oasis to the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona.

The article says multiple O’odham burial sites are in the area since their ancestors lived there for thousands of years.

Contractors cleaned a vast area near the springs, damaging a burial place the tribe had intended to conserve, according to Tohono O’odham Nation officials.

Trump built 737km (458 miles) of border, much of which overlapped with existing obstacles. The GAO determined that 81% of the Trump wall replaced barriers built by former President George W. Bush.

Current President Joe Biden vowed “not another foot” of border wall building during his presidential campaign.

After becoming office in January 2021, Biden suspended work. The GAO study warned against halting all border wall resources: “Pausing construction and cancelling contracts also paused restoration work — such as completing water drainage structures and reseeding disturbed areas with native vegetation.”

Meanwhile, Jordahl thinks repairing the damage will require more.

“Ultimately, we want to see this wall removed from sensitive ecosystems where wildlife has been damaged,” he said.

Jefferson Parish Hit-and-Run Accident Kills Construction Worker

Original Source: Construction worker killed in Jefferson Parish hit-and-run crash

Louisiana State Police Troop B responded to a pedestrian-involved vehicle incident on U.S. Route 90B upper level near MacArthur Avenue in Jefferson Parish shortly after 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 9, 2023. This crash killed Missouri’s 36-year-old David Allen Smith.

The initial inquiry found road work closed the left and center westbound lanes of US 90B upper level. A dark SUV was driving west on US 90B upper level in the right lane near the construction. Construction worker Smith was walking outside the right shoulder lane closures. Smith was hit by the SUV for unknown reasons. Smith died in a local hospital after being seriously injured. The SUV driver kept going west on US 90B upper level.

After the crash, a damaged black Dodge Journey was located abandoned on US 90B lower level near Ames Boulevard during the investigation. Troopers found the Dodge in the Smith crash through investigation. Investigation discovered that 24-year-old Marrero resident Isaiah Mayes drove the Dodge at the time of the incident and was found at a neighboring property.

During contact with Mayes, he showed signs of impairment and was arrested for vehicular homicide, fatal hit-and-run, reckless operation, and other traffic crimes. Mayes entered Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.

Louisiana State Police advise drivers that if they feel differently, they drive differently. Alcohol, prescription drugs, and other drugs have various detrimental consequences on driving. These medicines can impair vision, time and space perception, fine motor abilities needed to drive, and reaction times. Drivers should prepare ahead and choose a sober driver. Not doing so can kill.

U.S. 98 Bypass Construction Begins in Pasco County

Original Source: Construction To Begin On U.S. 98 Bypass Project In Pasco County

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the U.S. 98 Bypass between 7th Street South and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will have lane closures, flagging, and brief traffic stops. The 12-14th of September is Tuesday through Thursday.

These traffic operations are essential for final project engineering plan testing. January 2024 is the expected start of construction.

The $37.9 million 1.6-mile design-build project will enlarge U.S. 98, the Dade City Bypass, from two lanes to a four-lane divided roadway from 7th Street South to 7th Street North.

The project also widens U.S. 98 from Polk County to 301.

Project will build two roundabouts: one at 7th Street South and one at Old Lakeland Highway.

Meridian Avenue and 7th Street North will get new traffic signals. The Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard signal will be updated. Highway sidewalks will be installed on both sides.

Driveways and local streets will remain accessible.

Since August 2023, the Average U.S. Contractor Has 9.2 Months of Construction Activity

Original Source: The average U.S. contractor has 9.2 months worth of construction work in the pipeline, as of August 2023

According to an ABC member poll from Aug. 21 to Sept. 6, the Construction Backlog Indicator fell 0.1 month to 9.2 months in August. The reading is 0.5 months above August 2022.

Backlog declined monthly for all firm sizes except those with more than $100 million in yearly revenues, and only the smallest two revenue categories had more backlog in August 2022.

In August, ABC’s Construction Confidence Index for sales, profit margins, and staffing rose. All three numbers are above 50, indicating six-month growth predictions.

“There’s no sign of a construction recession in the near term,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. Policy and technology advancements together with economic transition are driving demand for upgrades and growth in America’s built environment, making contractors more optimistic.

Basu noted that while many contractors forecast very tiny sales, profit margin, and staffing improvements over the next six months, even incremental progress is surprising given tightening credit, increasing project financing costs, and recession fears. Infrastructure backlog increased significantly in August, keeping it at historic highs. That means a greater number of public works projects will begin.”

Summary of today’s construction news

In summary, according to a recent investigation, efforts to hasten building were made at the expense of Indigenous sites and delicate ecosystems.

Meanwhile, the Louisiana State Police would like to remind all drivers that they should always drive according to how they are feeling. The effects of alcohol, prescription medicines, and other drugs on the body can all have a negative impact on one’s ability to drive.

On the other hand, at the intersections of Meridian Avenue and 7th Street North, new traffic lights will be installed. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard’s current signal will be upgraded. There will be sidewalk construction on both sides of the road. There will be no obstructions to neighborhood streets or driveway access.

Lastly, for sales, profit margins, and personnel levels, the ABC Construction Confidence Index reading increased in August. All three measures are still over the 50-point threshold, indicating that growth is anticipated during the following six months.