Construction | St. Louis Public Radio

Construction

Building boom and workforce shortage combine to create a crisis in construction industry
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

The workforce shortage in the construction industry is not going away.

A survey by the Associated General Contractors of America found that 80 percent of Midwest contractors report difficulty finding skilled workers. And, nearly half of the companies surveyed expect hiring is going to get harder over the next year.

SLU students conduct archeological dig on campus before new center for science and engineering is built.
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

In a race against the bulldozers and cranes, a Saint Louis University history professor and a handful of students are conducting an archeological dig in the middle of campus.

It’s unlikely they will be able to excavate deep or wide enough to find evidence of an early Civil War encampment that once occupied the site, but Tom Finan, assistant professor of history and archeologist, doesn’t like to give up hope.  

“I can’t help but think with 800 men living here for a month and using the Mill Creek that ran through here, that something wouldn’t be left behind,” he said.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge, built in 1951, is a major thoroughfare connecting Illinois and downtown St. Louis.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

The Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge will be closed for a year, beginning Monday.

Both directions of the bridge over the Mississippi River, connecting St. Louis and East St. Louis,  will be shut down as a part of a construction project led by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The $24.3 million project includes the demolition and replacement of a smaller, nearby bridge that spans I-55 and I-64.

Construction continues on the 802,000-square-foot replacement hospital and outpatient care center for SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. Aug 16, 2018
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

The construction industry is booming. Nationally, employment in the sector increased by 303,000 over the past year, reaching a 10-year high, according to an analysis of the latest government data by the Associated General Contractors of America Association.

In the St. Louis region, contractors and unions report they are near full-employment, but a shortage of next generation tradesmen and women is making recruitment a top priority for many local construction companies.

BJC Healthcare is in middle of a large construction project employing a lot of workers.
file photo | Provided by BJC HealthCare

Developers seeking tax incentives from the city of St. Louis on public projects will soon need to show they’ve met thresholds for participation from minority- and female-owned contractors.

Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, January 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, Ward 22, wants city residents, women and people of color to have a fair shot at city construction contracts.

Boyd and representatives from city contract boards advocated for his proposed measure, BB 270, on Tuesday. It would refine and enforce rules already in place that require contractors to consider women and minorities for work.

Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

For the next year, a series of forums will examine the issue of regional collaboration. The Construction Forum St. Louis’ directors aim to discuss what has and hasn’t worked to revitalize a city of St. Louis and St. Louis County merger. The first of the forums featured urban policy expert David Rusk, former Wilson and Brookings Scholar and the previous mayor of Albuquerque.

6 North in the Central West End.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Jane Jones was overwhelmed when she first visited the 6 North Apartments building in the Central West End.

Built in 2004, it’s the nation’s first building constructed entirely under the universal design concept, which incorporates features that allow people with disabilities to live in the space. It can be defined as "the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design."

Jones, who is blind, moved there in 2012. She couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

A comparison of improved crosswalks and additional sidewalks before and after the project on Government and Wells Drives.
Provided | Forest Park Forever

Another long-awaited construction project is coming to Forest Park.

The southwest entrance to the park off Skinker Boulevard is closing Wednesday for six months so workers can rebuild the sections of Government Drive and Wells Drive leading up to the St. Louis Zoo’s paid parking lots.

Road map of Forest Park and the Central West End in St. Louis, MO.
Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

Forest Park Parkway near Barnes-Jewish Hospital in the Central West End is closing until at least next summer starting Monday.

The road, which runs below Kingshighway, will be filled in to connect at-grade with the intersection. The $10 million project is designed to improve access and safety for patients, visitors and neighbors, according to June Fowler, BJC’s  senior vice president of communications.

“We thought it was important to have a traditional intersection so folks who are traveling to the campus would have a more intuitive way to access services,” she said.

Plans revealed for major Cortex expansion

Oct 20, 2016
Cortex Innovation Community

The Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis’ Central West End will undergo a major expansion over the next two years.

Developers announced plans Thursday for the district’s first hotel which will include a restaurant, apartments with over 200 studio, one and two bedroom units, approximately 20,000 square feet of street level retail, a new technology and lab building and an innovation hall to be used as a meeting space.

This fall 2016 photo shows the the back of the Smithey's container home with new sod and patio.
Provided | Zack Smithey

A proposed amendment to St. Charles' building codes would make shipping-container homes blend in with more typical houses in the city.

A new home on Elm Street sparked the debate that led to the regulations, introduced at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. The amendment would require shipping-container homes to be fully sided and have a pitched roof.

Third-generation crane operator Tim Miller, 41, prepares to climb up a crane helping to build a new Barnes Hospital building.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

This is a re-posting of an article that originally published in June. 2016. It's part of a year-end celebration of some of our most popular work. 

 

There’s no shortage of tall yellow cranes helping build the largest construction projects in St. Louis this summer. One listener asked the Curious Louis project how the men and women who operate those cranes get to the top, and we answered.

I-64 W traffic highway
Paul Sableman | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1rzN9Hd

Since we launched the Curious Louis project last fall, we’ve received plenty of questions/musings/perplexed cries for answers regarding highways, byways and roadways in St. Louis. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh got answers to some of them by convening a panel of three experts.

Representatives from St. Louis City, St. Louis County and the state (MoDOT) joined the show:

The teen area of the newly renovated Indian Trails library branch, which is reopening on Monday, Nov. 23, 2015.
Provided | St. Louis County Library

Some St. Louis County library patrons may soon have to temporarily switch branches. The library system is in the process of opening or re-opening six locations while closing another five for renovations.

John Gaal, director of training for the Carpenter's Regional Council, gives Charles McElroy a certificate for completing the BUD pre-apprenticeship program on Wed. Nov. 4, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

In October 2014, Corey Harris was unemployed and looking for work. Now he makes $33 an hour as an ironworker apprentice in St. Louis. He made the transition from out-of-work retail manager to a career in construction through a pre-apprenticeship program called Building Union Diversity, or BUD.

Harris graduated from the pilot session of BUD just before Thanksgiving 2014. He was indentured as an ironworker apprentice in December and started getting steady work in March 2015.

U.S. Steel continues to ramp up production at Granite City Works following an idling that lasted for a couple of years.
File photo | Davd Schaper|NPR

Stakeholders on both sides of the Mississippi River are ramping up recruitment efforts due to a shortage of workers pursuing careers in construction. In the Metro East, those recruitment efforts also include manufacturing.

Martin Luther King Bridge closes Monday for repairs

Jul 19, 2015
Martin Luther King Bridge connects Illinois and downtown St. Louis. It was built in 1951.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

Traffic over the Mississippi River to and from downtown St. Louis is being redirected again. The Martin Luther King Bridge closes for repairs Monday at 9 a.m. It will remain closed for at least four months.

The Illinois Department of Transportation originally planned to close MLK Bridge on July 6, but held off until the Missouri Department of Transportation reopened all lanes of the Poplar Street Bridge.

St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus Pruitt says the Contractor Loan Fund is a potential game-changer for diversity in St. Louis construction at a news conference announcing the fund Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at Cortex.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Minority and women contractors who can’t get traditional loans to expand their business in St. Louis have a new resource at their disposal: the Contractors Loan Fund.

Certified minority and women-owned business enterprises will be able to apply for a loan of up to $1 million from the fund, which has a pool of $10 million.

KOMUnews / Flickr

State transportation officials will meet in Jefferson City later this week to approve road projects for the next four years, and as it has for several years, funding available for the St. Louis region continues to shrink.

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