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Construction jobs increase in 236 of 339 metro areas

Construction employment expanded in 236 metro areas, declined in 53 and was stagnant in 50 between September 2013 and September 2014, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released on Oct. 29 by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). “It is good news that construction employment gains have spread to more than two-thirds of the nation’s metro areas,” said AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. “But there is a growing risk that contractors in many of these regions will have trouble finding qualified workers to complete the rising volume of projects.”

Colorado to start web-based permitting and routing system soon

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) plans to launch the Colorado Oversize/Overweight Permitting and Routing system (COOPR) on Veterans Day, November 11. To facilitate the launch of COOPR, the CDOT Oversize/Overweight Permit office will be open for business Veterans Day but will be closed Friday, November 28. 

Fed sees tightened capacity in trucking and railroads

The Oct. 15 issue of the Federal Reserve Bank’s Beige Book said that “districts reporting on transportation services generally saw growth since the previous report, with a few pointing to capacity constraints in trucking, railroads, or both.” The Fed noted instances at seven of its dozen districts:  

Foxx says Congress has failed on highway funding

As midterm elections approached, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx made a point of reminding voters that this Congress failed to pass a long-term highway funding bill in the final days. “I do sense, whether it’s local Chambers of Commerce or Metropolitan Planning Organizations, that there’s a growing recognition that the accumulation of short-term measures are doing damage to our system,” he said in an interview with The Hill on Oct. 29.

SC&RA becomes charter member of Coalition for Crane Operator Safety

SC&RA is among ten of the nation’s leading construction industry organizations that launched the Coalition for Crane Operator Safety (CCOS) on Oct. 28. CCOS is dedicated to ensuring the swift revision and finalization of the crane operator certification requirements of the federal Cranes & Derricks in Construction Standard, which has been more than two decades in the making within the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Registration for Specialized Transportation Symposium opens Nov. 3

On November 3, SC&RA will begin accepting online registrations for the Specialized Transportation Symposium, March 3 - 6, at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia. The Symposium Exhibit Center will open registration simultaneously to 2014 Symposium exhibitors for the exhibit on March 5. After November 17, any of the 40 booths that remain open will be made available to the public.  

Report analyzes options for multiemployer defined pension plans

A 25-page study released by the Congressional Research Service on Oct. 7 analyzes policy options for multiemployer defined benefit (DB) pension plans. Such DB plans are pensions sponsored by more than one employer and maintained as part of a collective bargaining agreement. The report includes recommendations for changes to existing funding rules, for deeply troubled plans and for possible new plan structures.

ATRI picks top states for safety and enforcement

On Oct. 21, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI released a follow-up technical report to its previously released Enforcement Disparitiesstudy. In the new technical report,ATRI researchers identified the top 10 states that demonstrate superior commercial motor vehicle safety and enforcement performance.

FMCSA prepares to launch sleeper-berth study

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced that it plans to award a contract by mid-December for an on-highway test of the safety impacts of more flexible splits in driver sleeper-berth periods under the hours of service regulations. However, the pilot program would not be scheduled to begin until at least January 2016. The goal is to study 200 drivers, which would allow the agency “to look at the different ways they split their sleep, and determine what might be the best way,” said FMCSA Research Chief Martin Walker.

Demand exceeds supply of construction workers

Most construction firms report having trouble finding qualified craft workers to fill key spots as the industry recovers from its years-long downturn, according to the results of an industry-wide survey released on Oct. 22 by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). “Considering how much the nation’s educational focus has moved away from teaching students career and technical skills during the past few decades, it is easy to understand why the construction industry is facing such severe labor shortages,” said AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson.