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California Top Projects Show Region’s Construction Market Still Sizzles

Construction activity remains red-hot in California and Hawaii, with a wide range of public and private projects. Like last year, the top five projects to break ground in the region during 2017 all topped $1 billion. The annual ranking features the 28 largest projects to get underway in California and Hawaii during the past year. Collectively, these projects add up to more than $18 billion in revenue. Transportation projects take the top three spots on the list: the $1.9-billion Delta SkyWay project at Los Angeles International Airport, the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s $1.4-billion Central Valley section and the $1.4-billion first phase of LAX’s new Midfield Satellite Concourse. The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation also began construction of its airport guideway and stations, an $875-million project to be completed in 2021. Of the top 10 projects on the list, seven are in the energy and infrastructure sector, and infrastructure work should continue to grow for decades since many municipalities have locked in spending programs. “We finally have a lot of these regions and clients that have developed long-term funding plans that have allowed them to develop these facilities,” says Dave Miles, executive vice president with Kiewit, general contractor for three energy and infrastructure projects on the list. “With the funding mechanisms and what we currently see bidding in 2018 and beyond, we see plenty of opportunities in California.” LAX returned to this year’s list after a few years’ hiatus with its Delta Skyway and Midfield projects. “We’ve been on this track for 10 years to modernize LAX,” says Cynthia Guidry, head of the Planning and Development Group for Los Angeles World Airports. The 2013 opening of the airport’s $1.9-billion Tom Bradley International Terminal served as a catalyst to push forward new projects, she says. Future plans include a landside access modernization program, automated people mover and a rental car facility. California’s energy sector continues to undergo a transformation, with older plants closing and greener, more-efficient plants being built. The state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard mandates that 50% of the state’s electricity come from eligible renewable resources. The increased use of solar energy creates more demand for quick-ramping resources such as gas-fired plants to provide power during the evening on-peak hours, Miles says. “These new plants can pick up peak demand load—that’s one of the major drivers,” Miles says. Kiewit is general contractor on two AES power plants on the list: the AES Alamitos Energy Modernization and AES Huntington Beach Energy Modernization. The two natural gas power plants come in at Nos. 5 and 6 on the Top Starts list. Other notable projects include the UC Merced 2020 Project, the final $1.3-billion, 478,000-sq-ft phase in the university’s three-part campus expansion. The Chase Center and Golden State Warriors mixed-use development in San Francisco includes an 18,604-seat arena and 580,000 sq ft of office/lab space. Much of the information included on the following Top Starts ranking was provided by Dodge Data & Analytics.

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