5 Big U.S. Construction Projects in 2018

by Melanie Baravik
February 27, 2018

2018 is well underway, and so are some big construction projects around the U.S. Here’s a quick look at a few of the most exciting — including one in EquipmentShare’s home state of Missouri.

Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement

The Alaskan Way Viaduct is an elevated section of State Route 99 through Seattle that’s being replaced with a tunnel. Construction on the new route began back in 2011, when part of the Viaduct was demolished. The two-mile tunnel will allow drivers to bypass downtown Seattle — when approaching the tunnel, they’ll have the option of taking a new waterfront street into downtown, or taking the tunnel to continue on SR 99.

The tunnel was dug out in about four years — boring machine Bertha was sent underground in July 2013, and boring was completed in April 2017. It took another four months to completely dismantle and bring the machine back above ground. Currently, the tunnel is slated to be opened in early 2019, though the most recent schedule suggests it could open as early as this fall. The tunnel’s construction coincides with several other improvement projects in the city, including Waterfront Seattle.

California High-Speed Rail

With huge construction projects come huge budgets — and the California High-Speed Rail (CAHSR) has blown its megabudget out of the water. Overseen by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Phase 1 of the rail system will connect San Francisco and Los Angeles, whittling the more than six-hour travel time between the two cities down to less than three hours. The ultimate goal of CAHSR is to construct 24 stations, connecting the state from the Central Valley north of Sacramento, into the Bay Area and all the way south to Los Angeles.

Still in its beginning stages, construction on the portion of the rail connecting Madera and Wasco started with a budget of $6 billion. As of January, the actual cost of that portion of the project is nearing $11 billion. Estimates for the cost of the full project started around $33 billion when Proposition 1A passed in 2008, approving CAHSR’s construction. Today, anticipated total costs are in the mid-$60 billion range, though the project has a few hurdles to jump before it’s finished.

Kansas City International Airport

After a bumpy start to negotiations between developer Edgemoor Infrastructure and the KC City Council, the firm’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the project was finally confirmed with an 8-5 Council vote on February 8. However, that’s not the end of negotiations: Edgemoor’s first MOU was rejected, and a final contract isn’t expected until September.

Though no official design exists, it’s understood that KCI’s three horseshoe-shaped terminals will be replaced with one terminal. Edgemoor has released a preliminary design with their project bid and they’ve spent the past several months conducting Community Design Workshops to involve citizens in the design process. The firm still needs to complete an environmental assessment, and they’re inviting public comment on what the assessment should address at a meeting on Thursday, March 15. The new terminal is slated to open in 2021.

One Chicago Square

Developer JDL is undertaking a unique mixed-use project in Chicago; One Chicago Square is a residential-commercial space that takes up an entire city block. President and founder of JDL, Jim Letchinger, says they plan for it to “[feel] more like a resort than a typical residential community.” The firm wants the building to be an architectural addition to the city — it would be Chicago’s sixth-largest building and noticeably affect the world-famous skyline.

Projected costs of the two-tower building range from $500 million to $700 million and construction is expected to create up to 2,000 jobs. JDL will also finance infrastructure improvements in the area following one city alderman’s concerns about the traffic the tower would create. And since the building will take the place of a church parking lot, the property will become taxable — a financial win for the city.

TEXRail

A new rail line in Texas will take passengers from downtown Fort Worth into Terminal B in the DFW International Airport. Construction on the $1 billion TEXRail began in 2016, and it’s expected to open late this year. The rail will span 27 miles with nine stations across Fort Worth, North Richland Hills, Grapevine and two at DFW. Two of the Fort Worth stations will be shared with another commuter rail line, Trinity Railway Express, allowing passengers easy transfer between the trains. In addition to new rail lines and stations, TEXRail necessitates the construction of the Equipment Maintenance Facility (EMF) for the train cars, which will be built in Fort Worth.

The mayor of Grapevine is optimistic that TEXRail will strengthen the city’s workforce by making it easier for people to commute from surrounding areas. A tourism increase is also expected — about 1,000 visitors per month come from DFW alone, and the rail’s direct connection to the airport will make it even easier to get to Grapevine. The project isn’t without its challenges, but is still expected to be a valuable addition to the Metroplex’s public transportation.

There’s lots to come for construction in 2018, and these projects are just a glimpse at what’s happening in the industry. Subscribe to The Yard and keep up with technology, safety standards and industry news.

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