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Construction forecast bright with $45B in projects scheduled for NJ

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Governmental and educational leaders on Friday outlined $45 billion in construction projects that are scheduled to take shape in New Jersey over the next two years, a nearly $1 billion increase over what was forecast last year.

The presentation was part of the 34th annual Construction Forecast — sponsored by the nonprofit coalition Alliance for Action — at the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe.

Among the highlights was a $265 million project to build a storm surge protection system in Hoboken and Weehawken that was outlined by New Jersey Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio.

“This has the potential to become a national model in combatting climate change,” Muoio said.

A $170 million renovation project on the New Jersey statehouse will begin next year with a 2021 completion date, she said. There will also be $225 million in construction of new Department of Health and Division of Taxation buildings in Trenton, she said.

Michael Wallace, deputy chief of construction for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, outlined 2019 projects that total $1.4 billion. Major projects include the planned replacement of the Lincoln Tunnel Helix and converting Staten Island bridges to electronic tolling.

“Looking at trends for the next couple of years, much of what happens will be driven by the need to have a talented workforce and more collaboration between the public and private sector.”

Michael McGuinness, CEO of NAIOP

New Jersey Turnpike Authority Deputy Chief Engineer Lawrence Williams detailed a $7 billion capital investment program to fix roads and bridges that began 10 years ago, and said the authority will spend $100 million on bridge improvements in 2019 and $85 million in 2020.

Meanwhile, New Jersey is having a record year of cargo moving through state ports, according to Michael McGuinness, CEO of NAIOP, the National Association of Industrial & Office Properties.

“Looking at trends for the next couple of years, much of what happens will be driven by the need to have a talented workforce and more collaboration between the public and private sector,” McGuinness said.

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has provided “business-friendly changes by reducing the business tax rates to 21 percent” and creating the federal Opportunity Zones, he said.

“Trillions of dollars in unrealized capital gains is sitting on the sidelines that may be targeted for 75 communities in New Jersey,” McGuinness said of the Opportunity Zone program.  

David Rousseau, vice president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of New Jersey, outlined $360 million in construction projects in 2019 and $250 million for 2020. Princeton University is separately embarking on a $3.5 billion capital plan for the next 15 years, he said.

Aaron Fichtner, president of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, called a skilled workforce critically important to New Jersey’s economic future. He expects $100 million in investments on county college campuses in 2019.

Atul Shah, acting director of project management at the New Jersey Department of Transportation, outlined projects of $1.24 billion in Transportation Trust Fund sources and $1.07 billion from the federal Department of Transportation for a total of $2.31 billion.

NJDOT is currently doing 200 construction projects worth $3 billion, Shah said.

Eric Daleo, assistant executive director of capital programs at New Jersey Transit, highlighted the federally mandated positive train control, a system of sensors and computers that stop trains in cases of emergencies.

“As of today, we are 86 percent complete and on pace to complete it by the end of the year,” Daleo said.

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David Hutter

David Hutter

David Hutter grew up in Darien, Conn., and covers higher education, transportation and manufacturing for NJBIZ. He can be reached at dhutter@njbiz.com.

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