Category Archives: construction news

Virginia Transportation Secretary Seeks to Remove Pro-Labor Incentives from High Speed Rail Project

Silver Line Map - Unofficial

Last Wednesday, the Virginia Transportation Secretary, Sean Connaughton, attended the “State of the Rail to Loudon” breakfast and made a speech. Public officials often attend breakfast gatherings and make speeches, but they do not often criticize unions or labor incentives.

The gathering, which was sponsored by the Loudon County Chamber of Commerce, had to do with the Metro s Silver Line to Loudon, which is currently under construction. The twenty three mile Silver Line is currently in its first phase, and when that phase is finished in August of 2012, will begin operating from Tyson’s Corner to Wiehle Avenue.

Transportation Secretary Loudon’s speech related to the second part of the Project which is scheduled to being in the Spring of 2013. The second phase of the project will extend the rail line from Reston to Dulles Airport and Loudon County. The Secretary indicated that the construction project could not be completed within its projected budget unless pro-labor incentives were removed from the next construction contract.

While the State has promised $150 million to the project, the concern is that the labor package, if put into the continuing contracts, will result in the project going over budget, and the state having to foot more of the bill.

At issue is a conflict between Virginia’s Right to Work policy, which prohibits the State from requiring union labor or certain labor incentives in many circumstances. However, The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), which oversees the construction of the $6 billion Silver Line, already agreed to put the labor incentive in the contracts for the second phase of the work.

The Silver Line is being paid for with funds from the federal and state governments, Fairfax and Loudoun counties and revenue from the Dulles Toll Road. Rail projects similar to the Silver Line Project are underway across the country. Some have run into similar budgetary issues: though the Virginia issues relating to Right to Work laws may be unique. Last year, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie halted a railway project that was already underway due to budgetary and cost overrun concerns, making him both a hero and a villain in the political world.

Construction Activity Recedes in February 2012, Putting a Damper on a Hopeful Start to the Year

Despite a previously aggressive outlook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, construction spending fell again for the second straight month in February of 2012.  In the second month of the year, construction spending fell by the largest amount in seven months. Widespread weakness in spending on home building, office construction and government projects was reported.
On Monday, April 2, 2012, the Commerce Department disclosed that construction spending fell 1.1 percent in February after dropping 0.8 percent in January.  Construction spending now stands at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $808.9 billion, which is 6.1 percent above the low hit in March 2011 and, but approximately one-third lower than the highs of the housing boom.
The recent report highlights the weakness in the nation’s construction industry, which was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis, and has been one of the last industries to show any type of real recovery.

Does Anyone Know You’re Working?

On many projects, mechanics lien claims are substantially limited or destroyed because the owner did not know the claimant was working on the Project.  In most states, pre-lien notices are required in order to file a lien claim, and waiting to provide the notice can limit lien rights.

Providing a notice that work is being performed or materials are being delivered is, in many States, required either by statute or by contract. While this may seem like just another paperwork headache, it is a vital part of the construction process that should not be overlooked.

Many notices are not given simply due to inadvertence or not knowing the statutory or contractual requirements. But notices are also kept back for another reason: many contractors and suppliers think that providing a notice will create animosity on the project.

On a normal project, nothing could be further from the truth.  Pre-lien notices, which are usually provided at the beginning of a project, are simply informational.  The notices let the owner and the general contractor know who is working on the project so that everyone knows everyone.  Think of notices as sort of an introduction…an introduction that protects you when payment is not made.

To file a pre-lien notice on one of your projects, visit