The total value of Vermont construction contracts this year through October were down 23 percent as federal funding for highway and bridge construction waned. But both residential and commercial spending showed modest gains after two years of sluggish building in each. Residential was up 16 percent for the year-to-date and commercial was up 12 percent. New Hampshire showed a similar rebound in residential and commercial construction.Meanwhile, total US construction spending increased by 0.7 percent in October, driven largely by growing demand for power projects and public construction, the Associated General Contractors of America noted today in an analysis of new Census Bureau data. The new data, however, indicated continued weakness in many construction categories, including private nonresidential and single family construction, association officials observed.‘Without any upward trend in key private-sector construction components like homes and office buildings, it is hard to feel optimistic about the near future,’ said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. ‘With public construction at risk of cutbacks, it is premature to conclude that construction has awakened from its long nightmare.’Simonson commented that power construction increased by 8.8 percent between September and October at a seasonally adjusted rate, although the total remained 3.9 percent below the year-ago level. Public construction, aided by federal spending on stimulus, military base realignment and Gulf Coast hurricane-control projects, edged up 0.4 percent for the month and 2.2 percent year-over-year.Private nonresidential construction, however, slumped 0.7 percent in October, leaving the total 20.7 percent below the October 2009 figure. All 11 of the Census Bureau’s private nonresidential categories were below year-ago levels, Simonson added, with only private power and transportation showing gains from September.Private residential investment jumped 2.5 percent for the month. However, Simonson cautioned that the apparent leap is attributable to a 3.2 percent advance in new multi-family construction and a 6.2 percent rise in improvements to existing properties, whereas single-family construction sank 1.2 percent for the month.Association officials said that a proposal released today by the Deficit Commission to increase investments in highways, bridges and transit system construction provided some room for optimism. They urged Congress to embrace the transportation proposal, noting it would help the economy over the long run while giving a much-needed boost to short term construction demand.‘The best way to reduce the deficit and simultaneously support a strong and expanding economy is to invest in our aging network of highways, bridges and transit systems,’ said Stephen E. Sandherr. ‘Even as the broader report calls for dramatic reductions in federal spending, it is clear that our country can’t afford to neglect its infrastructure.’View Census Bureau data.
CLEAR LAKE — Lakes and rivers are often full on Memorial Day, as many people get their boats out for the first time.Iowa DNR boating law administrator Susan Stocker says the desire to get out on the water is probably going to be higher than normal this year. “And I do believe, based on what’s been happening around Iowa stay at home orders, what have you, I think it’s going to be exceptionally busy,” Stocker says.Stocker says you should continue to follow social distancing rules on the water and only allow your immediate family in the boat. “That means the people that you’ve been hanging out with at home,” Stocker says, “and so, that is one of the key things.” She says when you are at a fuel dock or loading and launching your boat, continue to maintain the six feet social distancing.She recommends avoiding some of the traditional things people do, such as landing on a sandbar and gathering — or doing what’s called “rafting.” Stocker says that’s when two or three boats tied up together to form a raft. “That is truly discouraged also — because you are not social distancing, you are not six feet apart and you are not staying away from people that you haven’t been staying at home together in the same household,” Stocker says.Stocker says the standard rules still apply whenever you are boating.“Everybody needs to have a wearable life jacket that fits them in the boat. And we strongly encourage everybody to wear the life jacket,” she says. “Similar to a seat belt when you are riding in a car — you have no idea when you might be involved in an accident — so having your life jacket on is the best practice.”Life jackets are required to be worn by anyone under 12 when the boat is moving. Stocker also reminds everyone that you can be stopped and arrested for drunk boating. “The effects of alcohol are greatly increased because you have the wind out there, you have the sun beating down on you, you have the glare of the sun off the water,” Stocker says. “What’s really, really crazy is that all these individuals are surrounded by water — but yet they are not drinking water — so they are dehydrated also. The effects of alcohol are greatly enhanced.”Stocker’s final piece of advice is to plan ahead. “Because everybody is feeling really, really antsy regarding cabin fever — we need to have some patience at the boat ramp. So, make sure that you have all of your items and gear in your boats and ready before you get to the boat ramp to launch,” Stocker says. She says continue to follow the social distancing requirements at the launch area as you start and end the day.