Week of March 27, 2023
Industry Groups Say Inflation, ‘Buy America’ Hamper IIJA Impact
Representatives of major construction and transportation groups say the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) continues to move funds to finance active projects, but its impact is hampered by increased construction material costs and Biden administration regulations, including Buy America requirements.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) subcommittee held a hearing on March 28, where officials voiced their concerns over the stalled progress in important areas and confusion among states and stakeholders caused by the administration, leading to potential project delays.
Despite the challenges, the IIJA has distributed $157 billion in formula funds to states and local agencies and committed highway formula funds for 7,400 projects in the first four months of fiscal year 2023.
Witnesses at the hearing also highlighted concerns over inflation, supply chain challenges, workforce shortages, and the need for clear guidance on implementing Buy America requirements to ensure projects are delivered efficiently and effectively.
House Passes GOP Energy Agenda Boosting Oil and Gas Production
The House, on Thursday, passed a Republican energy bill with a 225 to 204 vote. The bill aims to increase oil and gas production, expedite new projects, and boost the mining of critical minerals in the US while overhauling the National Environmental Policy Act.
Democrats opposed the bill, which is unlikely to pass in the Senate or be signed into law by President Biden.
Both parties are seeking a way forward on energy policy amid concerns over high prices, climate change, and overseas threats, and some elements of the bill could be discussed in bipartisan talks later this year.
Construction Safety Mindset Should Start in Undergrad Classrooms
The construction industry in the U.S. accounts for 20% of all workplace deaths, despite comprising only 7.3% of the national workforce. To prevent injuries and fatalities, the National Academy of Construction suggests promoting a safety mindset starting with undergraduates.
Universities must balance the addition of safety curricula with already-packed course loads and accreditation requirements, while the industry must balance safety against cost and scheduling constraints. Companies should connect with the universities they tend to hire from to shape education that keeps students safe throughout their careers.
Integrating safety information into multiple courses helps to drive home the message that safety must be top of mind for all professionals in the construction industry. This approach also allows for greater reflection on current industry practices, which ensures that course revisions are purpose-driven and prepare students for their chosen careers.
Upskilling the talent pipeline with a safety mindset requires assistance from the construction industry through internships, hiring, and input. Students who experience a culture of safety through their internships can return to campus with real-world lessons that help further build the safety mindset in future curricula.
March 24, 2023
RSK Group (RSK), a UK-based environmental, engineering, and technical services firm, has acquired 4AP-Geoteknik, a Denmark-based geotechnical engineering firm specializing in land-based geotechnical, drilling, and materials testing and analysis services. The acquisition of 4AP-Geoteknik will help to expand RSK's operating footprint in the Nordic region of Europe. Alan Ryder, CEO of RSK, stated, "The acquisition of 4AP-Geoteknik is RSK’s first in the Nordic region, and we are delighted to have initiated our growth here with a company that has built up a solid reputation for client satisfaction since its inception in 1978. We are keen to support 4AP-Geoteknik on its continuing geographic and sector growth, working with RSK companies and clients across Europe."
March 28, 2023
Field Group (Field), a Norway-based digital reality firm that offers aerial surveying, land surveying, mapping, software, and autonomous technologies, has acquired PrecisionHawk, a North Carolina-based artificial intelligence and drone technology company for infrastructure management. The acquisition of PrecisionHawk complements Field’s international growth strategy and will allow Fields to offer new inspection and analytics solutions to the United States infrastructure and energy sectors through the companies' proprietary artificial intelligence and machine learning software and inspection technology. Cato Vevatne, CEO of Field, noted, "This acquisition will shake up the US infrastructure and energy markets and help drive the shift to more sustainable and effective solutions. Our combined resources help our customers boost efficiency and reliability, build resilience, manage risk and safety, and move towards a cleaner and greener future."
March 29, 2023
WGI Ventures, LLC (WGI Ventures), the infrastructure technology arm of WGI, Inc. (WGI), a Florida-based provider of technology-based design solutions for the construction of public infrastructure and real estate development, has made a financial investment in AKULAR, a Virginia-based software development company that offers 3D BIM models to the construction industry. The strategic partnership between WGI Ventures and AKULAR aims to work with private organizations, and municipal, state, and federal agencies to create fully digitized, three-dimensional digital twin models to help them inventory and manage their hard-infrastructure assets in a real-time, cloud-based environment. Through their combined professional expertise, WGI and AKULAR will offer clients the ability to heighten accuracy, accelerate decision-making, and realize enhanced operations and cost savings by using live digital models combined with WGI’s robust infrastructure capabilities.
Pennoni’s structural and geotechnical teams in the Philadelphia office participated in a live demonstration session with local high school students from the ACE Mentor Program of Greater Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 14th. The students learned about Pennoni’s service offering and day-to-day work from transportation, survey, municipal, civil/site, MEP, and environmental groups.
ACE Mentor Program of Greater Philadelphia allows local high school students to learn about careers in Architecture, Construction, and Engineering and helps them achieve career objectives with scholarships and support.