Last year we began 2013 with an overview of the year ahead (and beyond) by asking a sampling of leading experts of their view on the trends and direction of the industry. As it turned out, it was the most visited page on our website. Naturally, we thought it would be a good idea to begin 2014 in a similar fashion.
The panel includes a cross section of the industry that present geographic and specialty diversity across the United States and internationally. Panelists include: Daniel N. Adams, P.E., Principal, Jacobs Associates; William W. Edgerton, P.E., Principal, Jacobs Associates; Randall Essex, Director of Professional Excellence, Hatch Mott MacDonald; Jason Holden, Director of Sales, Akkerman Inc.; Michael Rispin, Senior Vice President, Normet; and Paul A. Roy, P.E., Senior Vice President, AECOM.
The panelists see stability in the North American market for the near term, although they are generally not optimistic about the prospects for growth. One panelist said, “The market is not accelerating as quickly as we would like to see,” while another said “the market is leveling off.” According to one panelist, “We are seeing fewer projects to pick from … generally, we have ‘built out’ the turn-of-the-century political commitments, and simultaneously entered a protracted period where there is limited funding for major infrastructure improvements, let alone new projects.”
On the positive side, the need for new infrastructure improvements is as important as ever. There are major programs in the planning stages that can provide a shot in the arm for the industry when (if) they come to fruition, including high-speed rail, the Bay Delta Conveyance tunnels, trans-Hudson tubes and Second Avenue Subway extensions in New York, and CSO projects across the Midwest. Most agree that there is a shift away from the East Coast, particularly in New York, as megaprojects there are winding down.
The panelists agree that funding (or lack thereof) is a limited factor in the future of the tunneling market in the United States. Along those lines, the public and politicians must understand the need to invest in infrastructure. Additionally, they see a need to attract and develop the next generation of tunnelers.
North American Tunneling Conference
Looking ahead to the big events of the year, the North American Tunneling Conference is heading to Los Angeles June 22-25. The conference will be held at the JW Marriott in the LA Live area. The theme of the conference is “Mission: Possible” and will focus on some of the emerging trends in alternative contract delivery, which is certainly timely considering the increased use of design-build, PPP, DBO, etc., in the marketplace today.
Conference Chairman Bradford Townsend touches upon the conference as part of our Q&A feature on page 46 in the February 2014 issue. For more information on NAT 2014, visit uca.smenet.org. I look forward to seeing many of you in Los Angeles, and we at TBM are looking forward to a productive and exciting 2014!