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Weekly Briefing: November 6- 10, 2023

Week of November 6, 2023

Biden Administration Invests $16.4 Billion in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor

  • The Biden administration has awarded $16.4 billion for 25 major projects along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, marking the largest federal funding infusion for U.S. passenger rail infrastructure in decades.

  • The grants will be used to replace, upgrade, or expand tunnels, bridges, electrical systems, tracks, and signaling, some of which date from the early 20th century.

  • The largest project allocation is $4.7 billion to replace the 150-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel, which has long been a bottleneck that requires trains to slow to 35 miles per hour.

  • Other significant allocations include $3.8 billion for the Gateway project’s Hudson River Tunnel between New York City and northern New Jersey, and $2.1 billion for a new Susquehanna River Bridge in northeast Maryland.

  • The funding for these infrastructure projects is sourced from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).


U.S. Economy Cools as Job Growth Slows Down

  • The U.S. economy is showing signs of cooling, with job growth slowing significantly. Employers added 150,000 jobs in October, which is half the prior month’s gain and the smallest monthly increase since June. The unemployment rate rose to 3.9%, up a half-point since April.

  • If the hiring pullback continues, it could end the Federal Reserve’s historic interest-rate increases by providing stronger evidence that higher borrowing costs have slowed the economy.

  • Nearly all job gains were in just three sectors—healthcare, government, and leisure and hospitality—leaving the rest of the overall economy with no net job growth.

  • Kathy Bostjancic, chief economist at Nationwide, expects a recession in the first half of next year. This is based on the cooling labor demand and slow income growth, which could lead to a significant slowdown in consumer spending.

  • Strikes have had a noticeable impact on payrolls. Automakers had around 33,000 fewer workers on payroll due to the United Auto Workers strike.

November 6, 2023

Ardurra Group, Inc. (Ardurra), a Florida-based engineering and consulting services firm, has acquired Arredondo, Zepeda & Brunz, LLC (AZ&B), a Texas-based engineering services firm serving transportation, aviation, transit, survey, and water clients. The acquisition expands Ardurra’s service offerings and presence in Texas. Ardurra President and CEO, Ernesto Aguilar, said of the transaction, “AZ&B has grown significantly in 40 years, and their core values of providing innovative solutions to communities and doing their best to advance the careers of their staff, perfectly align with our values. We look forward to the significant growth opportunities that can be unlocked under the two businesses’ combined expertise and experience.”


November 6, 2023

Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC), a Pennsylvania-based engineering and environmental consulting services firm, has acquired Engineering and Environmental Consultants, Inc. (EEC), an Arizona-based environmental and engineering services firm serving Commercial/Indsutrial, Education, Energy, Environmental, Healthcare, Master Planned Communities, Municipal, Parks and Recreation, Residential, and Transportation end markets. The transaction adds surveying, landscape architecture, and water resources services to CEC’s Phoenix and Tempe locations.


November 6, 2023

Thompson Engineering (Thompson), an Alabama-based engineering services firm, has acquired Barry A. Vittor & Associates (Vittor), an Alabama-based environmental research and consulting firm specializing in laboratory services in benthic ecology and wetland assessment and restoration. The transaction will broaden Thompson’s environmental service offerings, particularly in the industrial and transportation markets. John Baker, Thompson CEO, said of the transaction, “The Vittor team is one of the most sough-after firms in the nation for projects involving bottom-dwelling invertebrates, and is highly regarded along the Gulf Coast…the Vittor team’s talent in wetland delineation, permitting, and restoration will enhance our environmental service lines.”


November 7, 2023

Verdantas, an Ohio-based sustainable engineering and environmental services firm, has acquired Watcon Consulting Engineers (Watcon), an Ohio-based construction and engineering firm providing civil engineering and surveying services. The transaction expands Verdantas’ capabilities and strengthens their positioning in Ohio. Jesse Kropelnicki, CEO of Verdantas, said of the transaction, “This acquisition is a great fit for both organizations, reaffirming Verdantas’ dedication to delivering exceptional services while broadening its capabilities. Notably, this acquisition is particularly special as it was driven organically by long-standing local relationships with the Verdantas team, reflecting the trust and synergy that underpins our leadership approach and vision for growth forward.”


November 7, 2023

Grace Herbert Curtis Architects (GHC), a Louisiana-based architecture, engineering, and construction firm backed by private equity firm, Bernhard Capital, has acquired Hahnfeld Hoffer Stanford (HHS), a Texas-based independent architecture firm serving clients primarily in the higher education, K-12, and commercial markets. The transaction expands GHC’s Dallas-Fort Worth presence and adds education and civic markets expertise to their team. CEO of GHC, Jerry Herbert, commented on the transaction, “HHS’s experience in every aspect of design – coupled with its relationship-centric service philosophy – has made the firm the partner of choice for customers in the Texas region for more than 60 years. The HHS team shares our values and focus on delivering exception results for customers…we are confident HHS will play an immediate and meaningful role in enhancing our expertise in the K-12, higher education, and civic segments.”


November 8, 2023

CHA Consulting, Inc. (CHA), a New York-based full-service engineering design, consulting, and construction management firm, has acquired Predictive Maintenance Solutions (PdMS), a Pennsylvania-based firm specializing in predictive maintenance programs and vibration analysis serving power generation, utilities, manufacturing, data centers, and pharmaceuticals. The acquisition strengthens CHA’s domestic manufacturing and grid resiliency service offerings. Jim Stephenson, CEO of CHA, said of the transaction, “PdMS brings an impressive 35-year track record of providing highly specialized reliability and predictive maintenance programs and technology. The PdMS team has a deep knowledge in minimizing risk and maximizing ROI for clients by maintaining their most important assets.”

Recently, Gensler partnered with Oscar Mike, a non-profit foundation aimed to improve disabled veterans mental and physical health, and Cushman & Wakefield on project “Welcome Home” to design and build the Oscar Mike Sports & Training Center, a facility to bring groups of injured veterans to train and live together. The facility pushes the boundaries of what it means to be accessible, including courts that can host adaptive sports, living accommodations, a business center, and dining facilities. From Gensler, “Every detail has been considered so that veterans of a wide variety of abilities can comfortably and equitably use the space.”


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