Future construction nosedives in July

Total future construction contracts in New Hampshire plummeted 84 percent in July 2011 compared to the same month in 2010, but last year’s figures could have been inflated by the federal economic stimulus spending.Future construction contracts in the state totaled $90.2 million in July, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, an industry information service.In July of 2010, they were more than five times that figure, at $541.2 million.In fact, the only segment that saw an increase over the same month last year were residential contracts, which rose just 1 percent from $39.6 million in July 2010 to $40.2 million this July. In all other measures, future construction contracts fell significantly year over year.This July, nonresidential contracts totaled $31.6 million, an 84 percent drop from the $202.1 million last July.And future nonbuilding contracts — for roads, bridges and similar projects — had the biggest decline of all. In July 2011, they came to just $18.4 million, down 94 percent from the $299.5 million in July 2010.The year-over-year discrepancy could be in part due to the drying up of stimulus funding, even though some of the bigger projects under way in the state — like the widening of I-93 and the airport access road — are still being funded by stimulus money, said Bill Boynton, public information officer for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.”Our contracting is not always easily defined in a one year,” said Boynton, who couldn’t pinpoint a specific project or reason for the drop year over year. “We’ve held pretty steady with our available construction financing until now.”Year to date, future construction contracts are down 33 percent, from $1.4 billion last year to $93.9 million this year. –KATHLEEN CALLAHAN/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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