Colorado Public Works Journal, Winter 2023

WINTER 2023┃51 Colorado Infrastructure Construction Market Continues to Look Strong The author Tony Milo is Executive Director of the Colorado Contractors Association and can be contacted at Construction contractors are less optimistic about many private-sector segments than they were a year ago, but their expectations for the public sector market have remained relatively optimistic, according to survey results released recently by the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage. This national snapshot, provided by AGCA, aligns with what we are estimating for Colorado’s construction outlook for 2023. New construction of infrastructure projects including highways, roads and bridges, drainage and flood control, water and wastewater facilities, electric power generation and transmission, reservoirs, mass transit, and similar projects hit a record high in 2022 and are expected to continue to increase this year. Infrastructure activity across Colorado last year was nearly $600 million higher than the prior year, as spending by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reached record levels, coupled with additional spending by local governments. Federal, state and local funding for water and wastewater projects and new water storage also increased. Demand for infrastructure is an essential part of construction work these days, and the subsector is firing on all cylinders with robust activity and strong backlogs. We expect growth to continue at a fast pace in 2023. Funding from 2021 State legislative action is resulting in new projects. Additional funding is expected from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act also approved in 2021. Colorado is expected to spend a record amount in roads, bridges, and transit facilities next year. The CDOT construction program is expected to top $1 billion in project awards for the first time ever. Local government infrastructure budgets will also be buoyed by the increased funding in both the state and federal bills. The Central-70 project through north Denver is wrapping up, but new major highway projects will begin in 2023 - Phase 5 of I-25 North to Ft. Collins and Interstate -270 through Denver. The $700 million I-70 Floyd Hill project will see a lot of construction put-in-place too. The Arkansas Valley Conduit, a 130-mile water pipeline project, with “spurs”, will get $60 million from the 2022 federal infrastructure bill. The conduit could add another 97 miles and provide water to as many as 40 communities and 50,000 people east of Pueblo. It will deliver filtered water ready for treatment from Pueblo Reservoir. In addition, the Gross Reservoir project outside Nederland has begun and will add $100 million of construction in 2023. While the industry will continue to face many challenges, including those related to workforce, materials shortages and inflation, the volume of work available in 2023 will offer opportunities for Colorado contractors of all sizes. INSIDE CCA Tony Milo