Friday, 29 August 2008

RDU Terminal 2 takes off

Raleigh-Durham International Airport will introduce the new Terminal 2 to the public on Saturday, October 11. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Members of the public are invited to tour the new terminal, which will officially open for business when the first flight departs on Sunday, October 26.

“During the development phase of Terminal 2, the airport focused on creating a terminal that not only simplifies and enhances the travel experience for our passengers, but one that also reflects the dynamic region RDU serves,” said Teresa Damiano, RDU’s director of marketing.

The September/October issue of NC Construction News will report on the design and construction challenges that make this a unique state-of-the-art building. Atlanta-based Archer Western Contractors is the general contractor overseeing the Terminal 2 work. More than 70 subcontractors worked on the construction project, over 40 based in NC.

The News & Observer noted that RDU is one of the nation's first airports to open a terminal designed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Denver architect Curtis Fentress, a Guilford County native, gave Terminal 2 room to accommodate post-9/11 security needs and expansion space for future changes.

At the open house, the public will see firsthand how the region influenced the architecture of the building, from the large wood trusses to the terrazzo flooring and granite and tile walls that reflect the region’s history of craftsmanship.

Volunteers will be on hand to provide attendees information on the art featured in the terminal, themes that guided the design of the new building and the technology used in the building to improve the passenger experience and terminal operations.

Designed to ease congestion, the airline counters are located in the middle of the lobby in a unique island design. Thirty-eight electronic kiosks are placed throughout the lobby for ticketless travelers. The design and placement of the counters and kiosks ensures that passengers can move easily and effortlessly from airline check-in to security screening. The concourse features 25 specialty retail shops and restaurants, two moving walkways and 19 boarding gates, including three gates for international flights.

Within weeks of the opening, what remains of Terminal C will be demolished to make way for the second phase of Terminal 2. When the second phase is completed in Winter 2011, Terminal 2 will be more than 900,000 square feet, nearly three times the size of Terminal C. The second phase will also bring an additional 17 specialty retail shops and restaurants, 13 gates and two additional works of art.

The $570 million project is being financed by airport revenue bonds that will be repaid through airport revenue, including a passenger facility charge. No state or local tax proceeds were used for its construction. Updated information on Terminal 2 and the public open house can be found at

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Stewart honored with SMPS national marketing award

Raleigh-based Stewart Engineering, Inc. has received a Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) National Marketing Communications Award in the feature writing category. The national SMPS awards recognize excellence in marketing and communications by professional services firms in the design and building industry. Director of Marketing Mary-Ann Baldwin received the award at the SMPS National Conference Awards Gala in Denver CO.

Stewart was recognized for an article written about its urban safety training program that was published in Point of Beginning, a national survey trade publication. Stewart’s urban safety training program was designed to give a broad understanding of the latest trends in crime as it relates to performing consulting engineering / surveying services in urban settings. Because this is the first program of its kind, Stewart received international attention after the article was published.

NC Construction News is an active member of the SMPS Research Triangle chapter. We look forward to attending the September 9 chapter meeting in the Cardinal Club, 150 Fayetteville Street Wachovia Building in Raleigh. Our group publisher, Mark Buckshon will be arriving from Ottawa to participate in an informal editorial advisory board meeting at 1:30 p.m. As publishers, we want to ensure that the reporting and content in Triangle/Triad Construction News and Charlotte Construction News are both relevant and useful to our readers. If you would like to join us, please email me at

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

RDU Terminal 2 terrazzo work of local craftsmen

A worker grinds a terrazzo floor in RDU Terminal 2, which was made by Raleigh-based David Allen Company

When the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority opens the new Terminal 2 this October, be sure to view the work of one of the region's most prized group of craftsmen — highly polished terrazzo flooring created by the David Allen Company of Raleigh.

Nearly six acres of their handiwork is included in the new terminal. The Terminal 2 installation includes special features to complement the art featured in the terminal. The floor surrounding Lydia Rubio's “Gate of Earth” installed in the baggage claim area reflects a collaboration between the architect, artist and David Allen Company. Additional collaboration is planned for the central atrium flooring in phase two of the terminal project.

Terrazzo workers create walkways, floors, patios and panels by exposing marble chips and other fine aggregates on the surface of finished concrete or epoxy-resin. Today, most of the terrazzo installed is epoxy terrazzo, which is used in the RDU floor installation. Epoxy terrazzo allows for wider selection of colors, 3/8 inch installation thickness, lighter weight, faster installation, impermeable finish and higher strength. It is also less susceptible to cracking.

When terrazzo is thoroughly cured, workers grind it with a terrazzo grinder, which is somewhat like a floor polisher, only much heavier. Slight depressions left by the grinding are filled with a matching grout material and hand-troweled for a smooth, uniform surface. Terrazzo workers then clean, polish and seal the dry surface for a lustrous finish.

Terrazzo is an art form involving highly skilled craftsmen. At David Allen Company, second and third generation craftsmen remain with the company. The company was founded in 1920 by David G. Allen when he was 26 years old. In the 1930's Allen brought master stone craftsmen to his company from his native Italy to train local craftsmen.

The September/October issue of NC Construction News will tour the company's corporate headquarters --a design showcase with an interior that is both an art gallery and a laboratory. A total of 67 different stones from 27 countries are featured there.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

NC regulators keeps door open for nuclear plant

The Charlotte Observer announced yesterday that the NC Utilities Commission won’t reconsider a decision that gave Duke Energy Carolinas the green light for planning the proposed William S. Lee Nuclear Station in South Carolina.

The Commission said it “finds no basis ... to rescind, alter or amend” its earlier order. The commission agreed with Duke’s contention that its hearings fully aired uncertainties about federal approval of the design of the plant’s proposed nuclear reactor.

The original ruling by the NC Utilities Commission in June opened the door for Duke Energy to seek to include its planning costs in customers’ utility rates — even if Duke decides against building the plant.

Advocacy groups led by the NC Waste Awareness and Reduction Network have contended that recent regulatory delays on the federal level show the project is too risky.

Both Duke and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have said the federal agency’s request for additional information about the reactor design is routine.

Duke plans to spend as much as $160 million this year and next on planning for the Lee plant near Gaffney, S.C. Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp., hasn’t yet committed to building the plant.

Advocacy groups have said there is an increasing possibility that federal regulators won’t approve the plant design. They contend that it isn’t prudent for Duke to continue spending money to design a plant that ratepayers might eventually have to pay for – even if it would never get built.

The SC Public Service Commission has approved Duke’s request to spend funds on planning for the Lee project. It previously declined to rescind its order.

The eventual cost of the proposed plant has been the subject of debate. Duke has conceded that its last public estimate — up to $6 billion — is out of date.

Monday, 25 August 2008

NC contractor focuses on education niche market

This shows the courtyard entry to the planned new high school in York, SC

Edifice, Inc. announced it is undertaking one of the largest education project of its type in York, SC. The new high school campus is so large – 128 acres, 416,000 square feet – that Edifice is approaching it as three projects in one: an academic area, an activities building and an athletic complex, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Established in 1978 and located in Charlotte, Edifice is one of the leading commercial contractors in the Southeast The company has identified educational projects as a niche, especially important to contractors now that a sputtering economy is slowing commercial and residential development.

“This project's scope is more along the lines of some of the university work we have done in the past,” said Eric Laster, Edifice president and CEO. The campus, designed to accommodate 1,800 students in grades nine through 12, will include the Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center offering programs ranging from automotive to cosmetology.

A two-story building will house classrooms, administrative suites and a media center with separate wings for the technology center and academic complex. A single-story activities building will include a gymnasium, auxiliary gym, auditorium, cafeteria and other facilities. The athletic complex will have a stadium, field houses, concession areas, track, tennis courts and playing fields for baseball, softball and soccer.

Edifice's Mike Carlisto, group manager, said his team has the experience to tackle the job. “We have done buildings like this on separate sites but not all together on one big site,” he said.

LS3P Associates Ltd.'s Columbia office designed structures to reflect the traditional architecture of York, upstate South Carolina's oldest city. Buildings will incorporate sustainable design features, including natural daylight, water efficiency, outdoor spaces and labs and open-air social spaces.

Edifice plans to break ground as early as this week and finish within two years.

Friday, 22 August 2008

NC looking at tax increases for road construction

Staring at a multibillion-dollar road-funding shortfall, the 21st Century Transportation Committee is discussing a host of tax increases to generate money for road and bridge construction and maintenance.

The Associated Press quoted Chairman Brad Wilson as saying that all tax options - including charging drivers for how much they travel - are on the table as the 21st Century Transportation Committee looks at ways to fill a projected $64 billion construction shortage over the next 22 years.

"Sticking our head in the sand under the banner of 'No new taxes' or 'No new fees' is, I think, both irresponsible and a formula for failure," Wilson said after the meeting, although he said the prospect of raising taxes is distasteful.

The panel is studying a plan to transform roadways in dire need of maintenance, such as Interstate 95, into toll routes. The panel also will consider hiking existing road and vehicle fees along with transferring some roads under state control to the counties.

North Carolina’s primary road funding sources--the vehicle sales tax and the per-gallon fuel tax, capped at 29.9 cents – have declined or been stagnant over the last five years. That’s due, in part, to motorist buying more fuel-efficient vehicles and curbing gas consumption amid high oil prices. The NCDOT is struggling to keep pace as the cost of construction materials such as asphalt and steel, have escalated.

The statewide study committee is looking for new ways to pay for North Carolinas transportation needs. The panel is expected to propose a statewide bond issue and increased state and local funding for roads, rail and transit improvement infrastructure problems.

The transportation group NC Go! is urging state lawmakers to consider a large-scale transportation bond in their 2009 session.

"North Carolina is falling further and further behind," said Berry Jenkins, NC Go! co-chairman. "Our bridges are aging out of usefulness and safety faster than we can pay to repair or replace them. If we ever want to get ahead of inflation and address the transportation needs of our fast-growing state, the time has come for a substantial bond package," Jenkins said.

For more information log on the 21st Century Transportation Committee web page.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Labor dept reports construction fatalities fell in 2007

Fatal workplace injuries in construction fell 5% in 2007, but the industry still has the largest number of on-the-job fatalities of any sector, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported yesterday.

Of the three major subsectors within construction, the BLS noted fatalities among workers in construction of buildings actually rose 11 percent from 2006, with most of the increase in non-residential construction industries. The largest construction subsector, specialty trade contractors, had 6 percent fewer fatalities in 2007 as compared to 2006.

Other key findings of the 2007 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:

----While fatal work injuries in general fell 6 percent, those incurred by non-Hispanic Black or African American workers increased by 5 percent to 591 in 2007. This is the highest number reported for Black or African American workers since 1999. Fatalities among Hispanic or Latino workers decreased 8 percent from 2006 and among White, non-Hispanic workers by 6 percent.

--Nearly all types of transportation fatalities saw sizable decreases in 2007 relative to 2006, including non highway incidents (down 15 percent); workers struck by vehicle, and mobile equipment (down 10 percent). Highway incidents also decreased, but only by 3 percent.

--The 835 fatal falls in 2007 represented a series high for the fatality census. The increase for falls overall was driven primarily by increases in falls on same level (up 21 percent from 2006) and falls from nonmoving vehicles (up 17 percent). Falls from roofs, however, were down 13 percent from the number in 2006.

--Two other prominent events were at series lows in 2007. Fatal work injuries involving electrocutions were down 14 percent from the next lowest year (2003). Fatalities resulting from fires and explosions were also at the lowest totals ever in the census in 2007.

--About one-fourth of all occupational fatalities in 2007 involved workers in transportation and material moving occupations, though fatalities among these workers declined by 5 percent in 2007. This decline was largely the result of a 6 percent decline in highway incidents, which account for about 50 percent of the fatalities in this occupation. Construction and extraction occupations, which accounted for 21 percent of all fatalities, decreased by 10 percent from 2006 to 2007 after increasing the previous 3 years. Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators; painters, construction and maintenance; and electricians all saw decreases of 20 percent or more.

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, part of the BLS occupational safety and health statistics program, compiles a count of all fatal work injuries occurring in the U.S. in each calendar year. For additional data, access the BLS Internet site:

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

When business slows down, roofer starts networking

The Charlotte Observer reported in its Friday edition how one contractor is coping with the economic downturn:

When business slowed at Edward “Ned” Arthur's roofing business last fall, Arthur thought he'd get a brief Christmas break after a busy year.

Then January came – but not the customers.

Sales dropped by more than half during the first half of 2008. Much of that drop came from residential customers, who in previous years would pay thousands for big repairs.

Arthur's prices for raw materials, meanwhile, were rising. A 30-year roof shingle that cost $36 per 100 square feet at the start of the year now costs more than $70. Arthur expects the price to hit $100 by December. A roof that might have cost $6,000 to $8,000 last year now costs $8,000 to $10,000.

“When we started to gear up after Christmas, we couldn't get it to gear back up,” said Arthur, who bought Charlotte-based H&S Roofing Co. in 1992. “A year ago, people felt confident they could replace the savings they were taking out of the bank to improve the house… Now they're not sure.

“I feel like I'm pulling a bulldozer with a rope,” he said.

He also faced more competition. Roofers who'd worked on new construction had seen their business drop and they went after homeowners looking to remodel.

Arthur's solution: more networking at events sponsored by groups such as apartment associations, rental property managers associations, remodeling associations, even national day care operators associations. He tries to attend every monthly meeting to find leads.

He's hoping for no Christmas break this year. “I may not be able to make up all of the lost sales for this year,” he said, “but I got a good feeling I'm going to make up a lot of it.”

I saw Ned last night at the monthly Charlotte chapter meeting of the American Subcontractors Association of the Carolinas (ASAC). He is currently serving as a director and chairman of the public relations committee. His fellow subcontractors chided his pr exposure in the Observer calling him a "celebrity."

Ned suggested that NC Construction News publicize next month's ASAC chapter meeting featuring Dr. Tony Plath, a respected finance professor at UNC-Charlotte who leads the industry panel that maintains the Carolinas Associated General Contractor Construction Barometer. He will speak on the economic data that impacts the North and South Carolina construction industry.

You can put this event on your calendar: Tuesday, September 16, Byron' South End (Design Center), 101 W. Worthington Ave, Suite 110, Charlotte. Time: 5:15-6:00 social, 6:00-6:45 dinner, 6:45-7:15 business practice interchange and 7:15-8:00 program. Make reservation with Sonya Ashburn 704-947-5151 or ASAC members: $25; non-members $30.

As a footnote to Arthur's comments, the H & S Roofing website makes the following suggestions on how to choose a roofing contractor.

"...if the contracting company is serious about staying in the roofing business, they will likely be affiliated with roofing, contracting and other business associations which promote ethics and reliability, such as Carolina Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association, American Subcontractors Association, National Association of the Remodeling Industry, and the National Roofing Contractors Association. Many homeowners have been taken by roofing companies that start up one day, and are gone in a short while. These associations will not allow these types of companies to be represented in their associations. Membership in these organizations shows company stability. Be sure they are affiliated with community organizations such as the local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau and other long-standing business organizations."

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Blogging for NC business

We received the following comment about our August 14 posting Raleigh, Charlotte Escape Worst of Downturn.

...It is very refreshing to see someone report on our area being “robust” and hope this story has an impact on people in the North Carolina area. It is my opinion that the negative stories we read on a daily basis only makes a bad situation worse, and reporting good news may actually help to boost our economy. Thanks for the article...

In responding to this comment, we discovered the author of the above entry is Keith Bloemendall of Raleigh Fence Contractors LLC, a NC businessman who has his own fence-related Blog. He wrote us:

...It is somewhat difficult to blog strictly on “fence” so I explore other areas like news, and other home improvement, or construction blogs to link to and hopefully get links back or at least increase my traffic. The obvious ultimate goal is more sales for my company, but in the long term, I am using my site as a test to see what works and what doesn’t work when using this type of marketing in the construction industry.

To me, blogging is what separates me from my competition and of course the built in SEO is what originally attracted me to it to begin with. The downside, is it can be a huge time hogger! It has been the deciding factor for many of my customers recently, as it establishes your "expertise" in your field...

When you examine Keith’s blog, you will find he combines opinion, factual discourse, and relevant keyword usage to help his business status on the search engines. He also draws relevant traffic and links through referencing, observations and postings through forums, relevant social networking sites, and A-list experts. All of this serves to attract more traffic and visibility. The Raleigh Fence Contractors LLC blog is updated on a frequent and regular schedule, providing independent and relevant information. We can all learn from Keith's efforts.

The Construction Marketing Ideas blog is another valuable source for blogging best practices. You may enjoy Mark Buckshon’s August 18 posting on the competition he discovered between two Raleigh area fence blogs in “Blogging for Business.”

Monday, 18 August 2008

What goes up…also comes down (-2.2%)

The Carolinas AGC Construction Barometer ™ posted a 2.2% drop in first quarter 2008 according to the figures posted on the CAGC website last week. The contractor association reported that construction slowed in North Carolina by 2.3% and in South Carolina by 2.1% from 2007 year end.

In both cases the principal cause was a significant slowing of commercial construction activity in early 2008, rising materials and equipment costs facing contractors, and increasing contractor pessimism about expected business conditions in 2009.

These particular trends were somewhat more evident in NC, with SC contractors reporting a bit more optimism. There was also a difference in labor conditions, with SC contractors expressing a stronger belief that labor will tighten in 2009, as opposed to NC contractors expecting good conditions to continue.

CAGC reports that In the 10-year history of the CAGC Barometer, it’s never experienced a quarter when every statistical indicator turned downward at the same time— the good news is, that record remains unbroken. Nearly every Barometer statistic, with only a few minor exceptions, dropped, causing the index to post its worst showing ever at 2.36. Worse yet, CAGC says it’s quite likely that the Barometer will break the all-time low record set in March 2000 sometime before the end of 2008.

Every category–the Employment and Labor series, the Business and Economic Trends segment, and the Financing Availability section– posted a drop for first quarter. In keeping with current expectations regarding industry activity, the downturn was more severe in the less-populated regions such as the Eastern and Western NC regions and SC’s Low country area. It was less substantial in the urban Heartland NC and Upstate SC areas.

The Barometer’s bright spot occurred in the construction labor market. Rapidly falling demand for labor, in combination with an inflow of new workers from other regions of the US led to continuing worker migration. Wages dropped a bit as an excess of workers competed to find jobs within the industry.

For a more detailed look at the Carolinas AGC Construction Barometer™ results, visit

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Southern Crane Celebrates Safety Milestone

Employees at Raleigh-based Southern Industrial Constructors and Southern Crane worked one year, totaling nearly 1.3 million hours, without a single lost-time incident – a significant safety milestone.

The companies’ corporate safety department tracks lost-time incidents for each hour its employees work. Southern Industrial / Southern Crane officials attribute their exceptional safety record to high standards and their employees’ commitment to follow best practices at all times.

“At the end of the day, we want employees returning home to their families in the same shape they left – that’s the most important work our business does,” said Earl Johnson III, president of Southern Crane. “I appreciate all the hard work and energy our employees put into doing their jobs well and doing their jobs right.”

As part of its comprehensive workplace safety program, Southern Industrial / Southern Crane enforces strict employee and supervisor training, and conducts frequent site visits and equipment inspections. Believing accountability to be important, managers post detailed safety records for all employees to see.

For more than 45 years, Southern Industrial Constructors / Southern Crane has served as an industry and community leader, taking pride in providing its services with safety, integrity, quality workmanship and responsive customer care.

Southern Industrial provides a wide range of services throughout the Southeast, including turnkey industrial construction, industrial electrical construction, turnkey plant installations and relocations, turnkey rigging and plant maintenance service, and specialized metal fabrication.

Southern Crane provides state-of-the-art crane and rigging services, and has been a leader in a national safety movement to encourage the certification of all crane operators. All of Southern Crane’s operators are CCO certified.

Because of their exemplary safety records, both Southern Industrial and Southern Crane are recognized as STAR contractors by the N.C. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division. The company has offices additional offices in Wilmington, NC and Columbia, SC. To learn more, visit

Thursday, 14 August 2008

“I could have saved a life…”

Author Unknown

I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care,
I had the time, and I was there.

But I didn’t want to seem a fool,
Or argue over a safety rule.

I knew he’d done the job before,
If I called it wrong he may get sore.

The chances didn’t seem that bad,
I’ve done the same, he know I had.

So I shook my head and walked on by,
He knew the risks as well as I.

He took the chance, I closed an eye,
And with that act, I let him die.

I could have saved a life today,
But I chose to look the other way.

Now every time I see his wife,
I’ll know I should have saved his life.

That guilt is something I must bear,
But it isn’t something you need to share.

If you see a risk that others take,
That puts their health or life at stake,
The question asked or things you say,
Could help them live another day.

If you see a risk and walk away,
Then I hope you never have to say:
I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.

Safety seminar handout at the 2008 ABCC Annual Conference, July 31-August 2, Charleston, SC. Courtesy of Steve Gelety, Safety Manager, Bovis Lend Lease, Inc., Raleigh

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Raleigh, Charlotte Escape Worst of Downturn

Moody's, a respected economic forecaster, estimates that 170 U.S. metropolitan areas could be considered technically in recession, and another 116 are at risk of economic contraction. However, the Charlotte and Raleigh areas remain robust, Moody reports.

Moody's compiles a monthly state-by-state list of metropolitan areas and gauges whether they're in expansion, at risk or in recession. Moody's latest reading shows that nearly two-thirds of the nation, based on economic statistics, is in or very near recession.

Moody's research suggests that 116 metro areas are at risk of recession, about 25 percent of metropolitan employment nationwide. That leaves roughly 32 percent of the nation's biggest metro areas, 94 of them, with expanding economies. In May, 106 metropolitan communities were expanding.

States or metro areas that make up the few winners in today's national economy tend to have their fortunes hitched to energy or technology. The health-care industry and higher education are two of the few job gainers in the national economy. Health-and education-heavy economies in states such as North Carolina have largely been in expansion.

Areas of the Southeast with newer foreign-auto manufacturing operations and technology hubs also are doing well. North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all appear to be gaining. These Southeastern states also tend to have escaped the worse of the housing crunch.

The Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama are holding up better than many other parts of the country because their housing markets never got overpriced, like Florida, Washington, D.C., and California. Population growth has remained strong and actually accelerated in the Carolinas.

By Moody's measure, metro areas like Charlotte and Raleigh, are in expansion. Greenville and Wilmington -- are at risk. For more information, contact

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

FMI/CMAA survey focuses on managing construction risks

Raleigh-based FMI and the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) are conducting the ninth Annual Survey of Owners to get building and construction owners’ perspectives on managing risks. The popularity of this survey is due to the significant role CMAA has played in supporting project execution and fostering innovative discussion around topics of concern to construction owners.

According to Jeff Lukowski, consultant at FMI, “Owners drive the construction industry. It is their push that drives innovation in the capital construction and that is precisely why their input is invaluable. Any information that can be gathered from this select group is central to predicting the future of the construction industry.”

The focus of this year’s survey is Capital Construction Risk Management and its impact on the construction process. In the final report, FMI will articulate the trends and best practices with regard to how owners mitigate and manage construction risk in today’s capital, material and labor intensive environment.

All owners within the building and construction industry are encouraged to complete the survey. Owners’ points of view will ensure the success of a valuable resource to the industry.

The survey is designed to take no more than 20 minutes. Survey responses will be accepted through Thursday, August 21. All respondents providing their name and address will receive a copy of the final survey report when completed.

The results of the survey will be presented at the CMAA National Conference on October 12–14, 2008 in San Francisco. building and construction owners’ perspectives Owners of any building and construction business can access, and respond to, the survey at .

For more information on the FMI/CMAA annual survey of owners or to schedule an interview with Jeff Lukowski about the research, contact Kathryn Robinson at FMI Corporation at 919-785-9211 or

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Mulkey encourages students to discover engineering

The employees of Raleigh-based Mulkey Engineers are reaching out to middle school, high school and college students to encourage them to explore the field of civil engineering and support them along their career paths.

Engineers at the firm’s five southeast offices are active participants in programs that include mentoring and job shadowing with the overall goal of nurturing and supporting future generations of civil engineers. Mulkey also has NC offices in Cary and Charlotte.

Many of the firm’s engineers are serving as mentors to girls considering engineering careers through a new website, The website is part of a project by the National Association of Engineers to bring national attention to the opportunity that the profession represents to people at any age, particularly women and girls. Mulkey’s Chairman of the board Barbara Mulkey, PE, FASCE; Lisa Robert, PE, director of Florida operations; Britt Hennessey, PE, project manager; and Colista Freeman, senior planner, all serve as online mentors.

Mulkey employees attend high school career fairs and recently invited eighth graders at Martin Middle School in Raleigh to experience a day in the life of an engineer. The engineers showed students a set of plans and taught them how to offset an alignment using MicroStation, computer aided design software. They also had the opportunity to see construction plans of several projects.

Mulkey is currently arranging job shadowing days for NC State University civil engineering students. They will attend client meetings with project managers and experience hands-on training that will allow them to see the challenges and opportunities available in civil engineering.
To learn more, visit

NCDOT revenues are falling as construction costs go up

Tax revenues on gas and car sales have dropped as North Carolinians cut back on driving. This means less money to cover steep increases in the cost of building roads and bridges.

Figures released this week by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) show a drop in the two taxes that cover more than half of the agency's $3.9 billion budget.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, NCDOT took in $1.558 billion in gas and diesel fuel taxes and $563 million in the highway-use tax on car sales. That's a $66 million drop from the previous year. This is a significant revenue drop considering North Carolina adds approximately 200,000 residents every 12 months.

As revenue is falling, NCDOT construction costs are rising fast. DOT estimates show that the cost of paving roads and building bridges has doubled in six years. The chief culprits in cost hikes are steel, concrete, excavation work and the liquid cement used in asphalt paving.

Other states and the federal government are suffering similar problems because of transportation budgets that depend heavily on fuel taxes. In recent years, as Americans have moved to more fuel-efficient cars, gas sales have flattened even while traffic volume increased.

A statewide study committee is looking for new ways to pay for North Carolina’s transportation needs. The 21st Century Transportation Committee is expected to propose a statewide bond issue and increased state and local funding for roads, rail and transit improvements.

If the NCDOT expects to be able to match its costs with its revenues over the next few years, it will depend on a reliable stream of federal funding, which covers more than 25 percent of the state DOT budget. Congress is considering emergency action to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund from going bankrupt in 2009.

The outgoing Bush administration has called for more private funding and less federal spending for the nation's transportation system. New administrations in Raleigh and Washington will inherit similar challenges with transportation funding problems when they take office next year.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Contractors and subcontractors can now ‘get along’ using ConsensusDOCS

Owners, general contractors, subcontractors, sureties, insurers and engineers developed ConsensusDOCS to more fairly balance risk among all parties involved in the construction project. Now one set of contracts can allocate risk according to the best interest of the project, not any one particular party.

NC contractors can join the August 14 webinar entitled “Now Contractors and Subcontractors Can Get Along Using ConsensusDOCS Subcontracts” hosted by Don Gregory, Esq., of Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter and R. Russell O'Rourke, Esq., of O'Rourke & Associates Co., L.P.A. The webinar, presented by the ConsensusDOCS coalition, will describe the features of the 700 (subcontracting) series of ConsensusDOCS that help contractors and subcontractors agree to better, more balanced contracts.

The webinar will begin at 2:00 p.m. EDT, and is priced at $149 for coalition sponsors including ASAC, ABCC and CAGC members. Non-members $229. For more information, contact Cassia Griffin at (703) 837-5408 or

Thursday, 7 August 2008

ABC of the Carolinas honors founding members

Reggie Currin and Debbie Kunttu, Imaging Technologies, received Industry Award for outstanding service to ABC.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary at the 2008 Conference in Charleston, SC, ABC of the Carolinas honored the original founding member companies that are still members of the chapter:

Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc.; Austin Industrial, Inc.; Bovis Lend Lease, Inc.; Bryant-Durham Elec. Co., Inc.; Carolina CAT, Inc.; Colter Electric Company; Concrete
Supply Company; CED, Inc.; Crawford Sprinkler Co. of SC, Inc.; Crowder Construction Company;
Ford & Harrison; Gregory Electric Company, Inc.; Hinson Electric, Inc.; Howard Brothers Electric Co., Inc.; Jordan, Price, Wall, Gray, Jones & Carlton; MECI and Associates, Inc.; Miller & Long Company, Inc.; Pyramid Masonry Contractors, Inc.; Robeson Electric Co., Inc.; Shuler Electric, Inc.; Starr Electric Company, Inc.; SteelFab, Inc.; Stevens Interiors, Inc.; Tech Electric Corporation; Watson Electrical Contractors and Willis of North Carolina, Inc.

ABC also honored Gene Wilhelm, Starr Electric, with its most prestigious award, the ABC Kirby Award. Named for Tom Kirby, retired from Austin Industries, the ABC Kirby Award recognizes an individual for dedication, support and service to the industry and to ABC’s merit shop and free enterprise philosophy. Wilhelm was instrumental in working with the Carolinas Electrical Contractors Association and ABC National in starting the chapter.

Honored members of the year were Keith Brokke (CED) and Derrick Johnson (Derrick Johnson Electric).

Choate Construction (general contractor), Starr Electric (specialty contractor), Williams Scotsman (supplier) and Imaging Technology (industry) were recognized for their outstanding service to ABC.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

NCSU economist sees sluggish growth reaching into '09

Dr. Mike Walden, a N.C. State University economist, released a 15-page report yesterday with forecasts for North Carolina and its various regions. Here's what he had to say about the national and state economy:

Most national forecasts suggest a sluggish economic growth path for the rest of 2008 and well in to 2009. Economic growth in the second half of 2008 will hover near zero, with growth heading back into positive territory in 2009 and making modest improvement during that year. Consequently, the national unemployment rate will continue to rise in 2008 and 2009, with perhaps a slight decline only occurring at the end of 2009.

The forecasts for North Carolina follow these expectations for the national economy. Average employment in 2008 will be down 0.5% from 2007’s average level, and consequently the average state unemployment rate will rise by 1.5 percentage points. Real (inflation-adjusted) retail sales and real wages per employee will also drop during the year, and housing permits are expected to be off by 35% from 2007’s level.

A somewhat better – although certainly not stellar – forecast is posted for 2009. There will be a very modest increase in employment – mainly in the second half – but not enough to prevent the average unemployment rate for the year from rising a further 0.6 percentage points. Real retail sales and real wages will both have modest increases. But the most notable change will be in housing permits which, after two years of declines, will register a 10% gain. This will signal the end of the housing bust!

He expects average unemployment to be about 6.2 percent for 2008 and rise to 6.8 percent next year. For comparison, the jobless rate in June was 6 percent.

Inflation-adjusted wages will fall 2 percent this year, he predicted, and rise half a percent in 2009. Housing will finally rebound in 2009, he forecasts. The number of housing permits will be down 35 percent this year compared with 2007 but rise 10 percent in 2009.

For a copy of The North Carolina Economic Outlook-Summer 2008 report contact Dr. Michael L. Walden, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, North Carolina State University, 919-515-4671. Email:

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

ASAC convention focuses on allocating risks

Eric Perkinson Brasfield & Gorrie, Walter Hardin, Winthrop University and Lee Chapman, DeVita Engineering participate in panel discussion at 2008 ASAC Convention.

The American Subcontractors Association of the Carolinas (ASAC) convened its 2008 Convention last weekend at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. David Bradbury, ASA national past president David Bradbury, urged subcontractors to empower themselves by negotiating favorable contract terms. “Profit margins are shrinking,” Bradbury said. “Subcontractors shouldn’t assume risks that they can’t control.”

Steve Sanders, director of the Construction Industry Cooperative Alliance, Clemson University moderated a panel discussion including an owner, architect, engineer and general contractor. Walter Hardin, associate vice president, Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC provided the owner’s perspective.

“Being a public institution, we award to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder,” Hardin explained. “We have only one contract and that is with the GC. Contracts for subcontractors are between the general and the sub only.”

To prevent bid shopping, Hardin said significant subcontractors are listed on the bid form and must be filled in by the bidder at the time of the bid.

Hardin said, “We like to partner with our construction team and thus meet weekly with the design team, GC and subcontractor project managers.” Winthrop also assigns its own project manager to the project.

According to Hardin, Winthrop by law pays within 21 days of receipt of a certified pay application. The general contractor by contract is required to pay subcontractors in 7 days from receipt of payment.

“We retain 3 ½% of each pay application until final completion of the job,” Hardin noted. By SC law, the general contractor cannot withhold any more than this amount to his subcontractors. Subcontractors who are finished long prior to final completion can request a complete payout of their 3 ½% retainage from the general.”

Subcontractors interested in employing best practices and fair risk allocation should become familiar with the new consensus contract documents called ConsensusDOCS. These standard form construction contracts are available at

The next ConsensusDOCS seminar in NC will be held at the O’Henry Hotel in Greensboro, NC on September 16 from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. The cost is $99 (continental breakfast included). The seminar is free to project owners. Call Nichole Costello 704-372-1450 Ext 5223 or visit:

Monday, 4 August 2008

‘Green’ ratings announced for NC colleges and universities

The Princeton Review debuted its new "Green Rating" of colleges - a measure of how environmentally friendly, responsible, and committed the institutions are.

The Green Rating is a numerical score on a scale of 60 to 99 that The Princeton Review tallied for 534 colleges and universities based on data it collected from the schools in the 2007-08 academic year concerning their environmentally related policies, practices, and academic offerings.

The Green Rating scores appear in the website profiles of the 534 schools posted on The Princeton Review's site ( They will also be in the print profiles of those schools in the 2009 editions of Princeton Review books published by Random House.

The Princeton Review posted green rating scores for fifteen North Carolina colleges and universities. They are listed below in alphabetical order:

Appalachian State Univesity-73
Brevard College-83
Duke University-93
Elon University-94
Gardner-Webb University-68
N.C. State University-90
Roanoke Bible College-76
Salem College-64
UNC-Chapel Hill-96
Wake Forest University-76
Warren Wilson College-95

Sunday, 3 August 2008

NC ranks among top states for business climate

Texas, North Carolina and Georgia have the best business climates among the 50 states, according to a recent survey of executives by Development Counsellors International (DCI).

North Carolina ranked second among the 281 respondents, with 30 percent saying the state has the best business climate. Texas was No. 1 among 41 percent of survey participants, while Georgia was third (20 percent). They were followed by Tennessee and Florida (15 percent each) and Nevada (14 percent).

Executives frequently cited a strong labor market and low operating costs in selecting the top states. The poll placed California, New York and Michigan at the bottom.

DCI’s survey was sent to a random selection of 3,591 U.S. companies with annual revenue of at least $25 million. The study is conducted every three years. DCI has expertise in economic development marketing, travel public relations and research. The company is based in New York.

For more information, visit

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Greensboro named prime data center location

In his new book entitled, Business Continuity Planning for Data Centers and Systems, author Ronald Bowman, Jr. names a Greensboro, NC site as one of the best sites in the United States for the location of a data center project because of its superior power redundancy and fiber optic connectivity. The site, located in eastern Guilford County, is a part of the Carolina Corporate campus owned by FRI Investors, Inc.

Bowman is the executive vice president of Tishman Technologies and is one of the foremost authorities on business continuity and the location of mission-critical facilities for corporate clients. In his book, Bowman states, “There is a site in Greensboro, North Carolina, which is the best available in the United States: Its design ISP and OSP is to military specifications – it has six 9s on one feeder and seven 9s on the other” which refers to power reliability and redundancy.

Greensboro Economic Development Alliance (GEDA) president Dan Lynch commented, “Having a nationally known expert designate a Greensboro site the best in the country for a mission-critical facility is impressive.

Data Centers represent one of the five industry clusters that GEDA is pursuing to help Greensboro develop high-wage, knowledge economy jobs. Such facilities represent a very large capital investment, which means a significant boost to the local tax base.

GEDA’s mission is to facilitate the creation of high quality jobs, attract new capital investment, retain and expand existing businesses, improve per capita income and generally improve the quality of life in Greensboro and Guilford County. GEDA is a member of the Greensboro Partnership, created to develop a vibrant community that expands and attracts business while advancing the quality of life for all. For additional information contact Dan Lynch, 336.387.8310 -

Friday, 1 August 2008

N.C. puts off bridge repairs

North Carolina legislators declined to dramatically change how it funds bridge repairs in the year following the Minnesota bridge collapse, after safety checks found no spans at immediate risk of danger.

Citing a poor economy and recent opposition to local tax referendums, the General Assembly decided not to push this year for a billion-dollar road bond package that in part would have helped with bridge repairs.

The Fayetteville Observer predicts the deferral will lead to increased pressure in 2009 to consider larger bonds and possible tax and fee increases to help with a backlog of transportation needs. While the state DOT said it’s focusing more on maintenance and is targeting $45 million in federal and state money this year to accelerate bridge replacement, improvements have move at a snail’s pace.

Four structurally deficient bridges — the span over Rowan Street in Fayetteville, two bridges in Forsyth County and one in Onslow — received partial repairs.

Eliminating or replacing all of the state’s roughly 2,400 structurally deficient bridges would cost at least $5 billion, according to department officials. Structurally deficient means the bridge is in relatively poor condition because of age and may require weight limits and more intense maintenance, according to NCDOT.

“The big challenge next year is can they come up with more transportation money,” said Barry Jenkins, director of the highway/heavy division of the Carolinas AGC and co-chairman of NC GO!, a coalition of local governments and road-building trade groups. “We cannot keep deferring investing in transportation.”

An Associated Press review of the 20 most-traveled structurally deficient bridges in North Carolina found that two of them had been repaired completely in the year since the deadly Aug. 1, 2007, collapse on the eight-lane I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

The 10 percent repair rate in NC is in line with the national average of 12 percent of the bridges fixed completely as determined by the AP’s examination of the most-traveled structurally deficient bridges in each state and the District of Columbia.

Lawmakers didn’t feel the need to appropriate emergency funds after DOT engineers closely examined more than 75 bridges in the weeks following the collapse. They found only one minor repair was necessary.