A New York State court judge in Albany rejected a Department of Transportation (DOT) requirement of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on a highway project on Route 17 in the Town of Wallkill, Orange County. In an Article 78 proceeding, which challenges the determinations of a public administrative agency, a non-union low bidder on the DOT project, who refused to enter into a PLA negotiated by the DOT and made a part of the bid documents, challenged the award which ignored its bid and went to the second bidder at an added cost reported to be $4.5 million. Because the DOT failed to demonstrate that the use of the PLA advanced the interests of the State’s public bidding statutes, the petition was granted. Barring an appeal, which is expected, the DOT will be required to re-bid without the PLA requirement.
The Association of General Contractors of America released its construction employment data for 2011, and, as expected, the overall construction market remains weak. Although construction spending between December 2010 and December 2011 increased by 4.3 percent, two of the country’s largest cities, Philadelphia and New York City, experienced sharp declines in their construction workforce. More specifically, out of the 337 metropolitan areas listed by the AGC, Philadelphia reported the largest job loss with a loss of 4,800 construction jobs, a 7 percent decline. New York City was a close second with a construction job loss of 4,600 jobs, a 4 percent decline.
On the bright side, Lake County-Kenosha County, Ill.-Wis., added both the most and the highest percentage of new construction jobs (33 percent, 3,900 jobs). Other areas adding a large number of jobs included Edison-New Brunswick, N.J. (3,700 jobs, 11 percent); Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. (3,600 jobs, 8 percent); Louisville-Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind. (3,100 jobs, 13 percent) and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (3,100 jobs, 10 percent).
Overall, construction employment increased in 148 out of 337 metropolitan areas between December 2010 and December 2011, decreased in 128 areas, and stayed level in 61 areas. Association officials said that recent developments in Washington that could lead to passage of long-delayed highway, bridge, transit and aviation investment legislation could give a needed boost to construction employment in many areas.
Design-Build project delivery has gained ground recently in New York. In a sweeping budget deal last month (December 2011), including provisions restructuring the personal income tax code, New York authorized certain state agencies to utilize design-build for road, bridge and other capital projects in excess of $1.2 million. The agencies benefitting from the deal include the Department of Transportation, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Presentation and the Department of Environmental Conservation. Awards are to be made on a “best value” basis to bidders from a prequalified list.