K-12 Making a Comeback

Plunging tax receipts, state budget disasters, PlanCon moratoriums and attempts at PlanCon reform have all been wet blankets on what was once a staple of the construction industry: the K-12 school market. What was once regularly a $300-$500 million/year opportunity fell to $100 million or less after the recession. The market is still very thin by historic standards but the return of big projects has made K-12 one of the growth sectors of 2016 thus far.

Throught the first three months of 2016, K-12 contracting volume is way up over 2015. At $146 million, contracting is more than ten times what it was in the first quarter of 2015.

benchmarks 2016-5Most of the volume in K-12 has come from just a few projects: the $67 million Thomas Jefferson High, $25 million South Fayette High and $34 million Ringgold Middle School jobs. The $25 million Chartiers Vally Middle School project is awaiting award of contracts and nnother $49 million Chartiers Valley High project is out-to-bid. Also bidding now is the $10 million Bentworth High and the new $22 million Rogers Elementary in Shaler is about to be released to bid.That’s $230 million from a half-dozen or so projects.

The problem for K-12 is those projects more or less make up the market in 2016. There will be other work but the total for 2016 will probably not top $300 million. With PlanCon effectively shut down the past year, there will be fewer projects on the street in 2017. That’s why prices have been dirty low, even in a K-12 bubble.

In project news, Mascaro was the low general on the re-bid of the $42.7 million Brush Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Cranberry Township. Mascaro was also low on the first round and their bid of $35.9 million is expected to be awarded at the May 5 supervisors meeting. Franjo Construction was identified as the successful bidder on the 116-room Homewood Suites at the Village of Cranberry Woods. TBI Contracting is preparing to start work on n 80,000 sq. ft. and 45,000 sq. ft. two-building expansion of Callery Industrial Park.

Late last week there was word that Shell had put the Monaca cracker on hold until February 2017. The project was one of several affected by a corporate capital budget cut that will result in a slowdown of the construction of the project in Monaca. Contracts will go ahead for work that was bid but the schedule will slow to reduce the cash flow impact in 2016.

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