Friday, April 20, 2012

Illinois Tollway Design Contracts May Signal A Brighter Future

An Illinois Tollway committee approved almost $170 million in engineering contracts for proposed highway construction Wednesday, April 18, signaling what could be the beginning of a turnaround in the sorry state of the state’s construction industry economy. Most of the contemplated work involves widening of the Jane Addams Tollway and construction of the new Elgin-O’Hare West Bypass. The contracts are expected to receive approval of the Tollway board at its April 26 meeting.

The engineering proposals selected for by the committee include $66.8 million to CH2M Hill Inc., for the Elgin-O’Hare project, plus Jane Addams proposals of $26.9 million for V3Companies; $24.1 million for HDR Engineering; $23.4 million for Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc.; $16.4 million for Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc.; $5.4 million for the joint venture of Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates with 2IM Group; $3.4 million for HR Green, Inc.; and $2.7 million for ABNA of Illinois. The total construction budget for the Elgin-O’Hare project is projected to be $3.4 billion and the Jane Addams widening project could range between $1.9 billion and $4.6 billion, depending on which mass transit options, if any, are included in the project.

These Tollway engineering contracts are part of a nationwide increase in design firm revenues for the first time in three years. The overall design revenue of the industry’s top 500 firms rose 6.6% in 2011, to $85.06 billion from $79.82 billion a year earlier. However, most of the increase is due to a 20.4% rise in revenue from international projects, as opposed to a mere 1.6% gain in domestic design revenues. Domestic sewer and wastewater design revenue declined 8.3%, domestic water supply design revenue declined 3.7%, and domestic transportation design revenue declined 0.1%. In private sector work, design revenue increased 24% in industrial processes, 23.3% in telecommunications, 4.6 $ in the oil industry, 4% in electrical power, and 2.9% in buildings design.

While these overall numbers are mildly hopeful, they don’t yet represent any real return to stability for American design professionals.

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