Monday, August 23, 2010

Ten-Point Program for Construction Job Recovery in Seattle

Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce
August 19th, 2010 by Jerry VanderWood

What else, in addition to infrastructure investments, can government do to stimulate the economy, particularly the struggling construction sector? Justifiably so, government entities at all levels are asking that question. AGC had the opportunity to share some ideas with the City of Seattle, and what follows is AGC’s suggested 10-point program for construction industry job recovery:

1. Ensure timely implementation of the Bored Tunnel, seawall replacement, Sound Transit 2 programs, the SR 520 and Mercer corridor projects. Plus, seek to accelerate construction of other critical infrastructure projects. City capital projects (from all departments) expected to go to bid the remainder of this year and next year should be re-estimated for potential cost savings. In the current bid environment where projects are coming in 10 to 20 percent under the engineers estimate, the City may be able to identify sufficient savings to advance additional projects.

2. Contract out some of the road maintenance and repair work typically performed in-house. With a reduced City work force and furloughs this may provide a way to maintain adequate levels of service.

3. If not already underway and subject to Federal Funding participation, embark upon energy efficiency upgrades for City-owned buildings.

4. Partner with AGC and other industry groups to work with the state legislature to develop financing mechanisms that support essential City infrastructure investments in both transportation and other public facilities.

5. Promote common sense incentives, tax credits and policy changes designed to stimulate new private- and public-sector demand.

6. Eliminate discriminatory project labor agreements (PLAs) that favor one segment of the labor force over another. We need to ensure that all workers have the opportunity to participate in the recovery.

7. Establish a single point-of-contact among departments within the City for expediting major projects (similar to what was done for the tunnel retrofit project). Improving coordination among Departments for processing permits will reduce permitting time and save on overall project costs. This could include a one-stop permit process for these projects similar to what King County and the State have established for some environmental permits.

8. Eliminate the practice of adding additional costs and fees to permits and other services to augment Department budgets in this down economy. This appears to be happening to private developers, contractors and other public agencies.

9. Timely removal or installation of utilities, particularly those for which Seattle City Light is responsible. This is a major issue for contractors.

10. As part of the City’s initiative to develop a better prepared workforce, partner with the AGC Education Foundation to establish construction math curriculums in various high schools, based on the pilot project completed in Bellingham.

Any other suggestions for the City of Seattle?

Jerry VanderWood is communications director for the Associated General Contractors of Washington, where he gets to learn about construction issues from the best in the business. He's originally from South Carolina, then Washington, D.C., and moved to the Seattle area in 1989. He resides with his wife and kids in the suburbs of Issaquah

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The new 520 bridge (video simulation)

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has posted a video simulation of what traveling across the new Evergreen Point floating bridge will look like.

Next month the WSDOT begins its search for a design-build team on a $700 million to $1 billion project replacing SR 520 bridge between Seattle and Medina.

The project is scheduled to finish by December 2014.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Every Real Estate Professional Should Know About Land Surveys

A surveyor friend at Site Surveying & Mapping relayed a story about a last minute dilemma they faced that almost killed a closing for a Realtor on a million dollar deal. How did it happen? How could it have been avoided?

Do you ever wonder what type of survey you might need on your site? What are the differences in an ALTA/ACSM and the standards within WAC 332-130? Can I just use the existing survey provided by the Seller?

Having these questions asked over and over lead to the creation of a booklet which will hopefully serve as a good reference for people in understanding Land Surveys as they pertain to the Real Estate Professional.

Link to the full article: