By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

Total transportation construction and related market activity is expected to grow 1.3 percent in 2017, driven largely by increases in highway and bridge private construction activity supporting residential and commercial developments, according to ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black.

She estimates the market will reach $247.8 billion in 2017, up from $244.5 billion in 2016.

Dr. Black revealed her annual market insights during a Dec. 2 webinar for analysts, investors, transportation construction market executives, public officials and the news media. ARTBA members can purchase the comprehensive 2017 ARTBA Transportation Construction Market Forecast for $200 at A replay of the webinar is also available for purchase.

Other forecast highlights by mode:

Public & Private Highway, Street & Related Construction

  • After two years of real growth, the value of public highway, street and related work by state DOTs and local governments fell nearly 2 percent in 2016 and is expected to decline another 1 percent in 2017.
  • Recent increases in state gas taxes and user fees, as well as a number of voter-approved funding initiatives should help support some local markets over the next few years.  Voters in 24 states approved 267 ballot measures in 2016, which will support $207 billion in highway, bridge, port and transit spending over the next 40 years.
  • Public-private partnerships will continue to be important to state and local markets that have revenue streams to support these projects.
  • Based on historical data, the private highway, bridge, parking lot and driveway markets will increase to $62.5 billion in 2017 from $58.9 billion in 2016, and will continue to grow over the next five years as overall construction activity increases in those sectors.

Bridges & Tunnels

  • The public bridge and tunnel construction market is expected to decline slightly to $32.9 billion from a record $33.3 billion in 2016, before resuming real growth in 2018 and beyond.
  • The national outlook is being driven by activity in nine states, which accounts for 53 percent of the market: California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina and Ohio. Recent contract awards are down in many of these states, in part because of some major projects that got underway in 2015.

Railroad, Subway & Light Rail

  • Public transit and rail construction is expected to grow 5 percent from $19.3 billion to $20.3 billion in 2017.
  • Subway and light rail investment is expected to grow 3.7 percent to $7.7 billion, just below the record $7.8 billion set in 2015.

Airport Terminals & Runways

  • The value of airport construction will lift slightly to $13.2 billion in 2017 from $13.1 billion in 2016.
  • Airport terminal and related work is expected to increase from $8.3 billion in 2016 to $8.4 billion, while runway work is forecast to remain flat at $4.8 billion.

Ports & Waterways

  • Port and waterway investment is expected to be $2.1 billion in 2017, the same as 2016 and down from $2.3 billion in 2015. Passage of the Water Resources Development Act, which identifies nearly $9 billion in projects, could help boost the market sector.

The ARTBA forecast is based on a series of proprietary econometric models for each mode and analysis of federal, state and local data and market intelligence.