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35 U.S. Mega Projects Summed to 15% of Total Nonresidential Starts

Alex Carrick
35 U.S. Mega Projects Summed to 15% of Total Nonresidential Starts

Almost Half of 2019’s Mega Project Initiations were in the South

U.S. country-wide construction starts in 2019 had a greater than normal weighting of ‘mega’ projects. ‘Megas’ are projects valued at $1.0 billion or more each.

35 U.S. Mega Projects Summed to 15% of Total Nonresidential Starts Graphic

In 2018, there were 20 mega projects nationally adding to $47.2 billion. In 2019, there were 35 mega projects (+75% y/y), summing to $79.1 billion (+68% y/y).

In 2019, mega projects accounted for 15% of the total value of U.S. nonresidential starts.

In the three tables which follow, all 35 U.S. mega projects are set out according to the region of the country where their groundbreakings occurred.

The breakdown by number of projects had the South in the lead with 16, followed by the West with 8 and the Midwest with 7. The Northeast recorded only 4 such projects.

Interactive Visual

Northeast Plus Midwest Yielded One-fifth of Total ‘Megas’ Value

The value of mega project start-ups in the Northeast Region of the U.S. in 2019, at $6.0 billion, was 7.7% of the America-wide figure of $79.1 billion. By state, two of the NE’s four projects were in New York.

In the Midwest, the total value of the region’s seven mega project start-ups, at $10.2 billion, was 12.9% of the U.S. total. Michigan accounted for three of the seven and Illinois contributed two.

Among mega projects in the NE and MW, there was a big transportation component, with groundbreakings on rail, rapid transit and airport work. Also noteworthy were large car plant, sports arena and electric power plant projects.

The Northeast and Midwest in combination contributed one-fifth towards the total value of U.S. mega projects last year.   

Table 1: U.S. 2019 ‘Mega’ Construction Project Starts (i.e., Projects of $1 Billion or More Each) – Northeast and Midwest
  northeast       Share of 
State City/County Type of Structure Name/Description of Project $ Billions U.S. Total
           
New York New York Commercial St. John’s Terminal Redevelopment $2.000  
Pennsylvania Monongahela Engineering/Civil Lower Mon Project – Charleroi Dam Stilling Basin Extension $1.685  
New York Elmont Commercial Belmont Park Redevelopment, Sports/Arena Complex  $1.300  
Massachusetts Boston Engineering/Civil South Coast Rail – Phase 1 $1.047  
           
      Sum $6.032 7.7%
           
  midwest       Share of 
State City/County Type of Structure Name/Description of Project $ Billions U.S. Total
           
Illinois Chicago Engineering/Civil Red & Purple Line Modernization (RPM) Project Phase One $2.100  
Minnesota Eden Prairie Engineering/Civil Green Line Light Rail Transit Extension (Southwest LRT) $2.000  
Michigan Detroit Industrial Fiat Chrysler Assembly Plant $1.600  
Missouri Kansas City Commercial Kansas City International Airport – New Single Terminal  $1.500  
Michigan East China Engineering/Civil Blue Water Energy Center / East China Township $1.000  
Michigan Niles Engineering/Civil Indeck Niles Energy Center (natural gas-powered) $1.000  
Illinois Chicago Commercial Union Station Commercial Development + 50-story tower  $1.000  
           
      Sum $10.200 12.9%
Data source and table: ConstructConnect.

The South’s Mega Project Listing Dominated by Texas

The South was the nation’s standard bearer for mega projects in 2019. Its $47.5 billion worth of work was 60.0%, or three-fifths, of the country-wide total.

Half of the South’s 16 mega projects were launched in Texas. By value, Texas was 62% of the South’s total.

Two other states managed multiple entries in the South’s 2019 mega projects listing, Georgia with three and Alabama with two.

Texas mega projects were heavily concentrated in the energy sphere – refinery, ethane cracker, LNG and pipeline work. The state also ‘scored’ an Apple campus for Austin.

Georgia’s three mega projects were diverse ‒ a data center, a motor vehicle battery plant and a children’s healthcare project.

Alabama’s ‘megas’ were both in the auto sector ‒ the Toyota/Mazda joint venture and a battery plant for Mercedes-Benz.

Other mega projects in the South included an LNG facility in Louisiana, an Amazon air distribution center in Kentucky and railroad work in Florida.

Table 2: U.S. 2019 ‘Mega’ Construction Project Starts (i.e., Projects of $1 Billion or More Each) – South
  south       Share of 
State City/County Type of Structure Name/Description of Project $ Billions U.S. Total
           
Texas Sabine Pass Industrial Golden Pass LNG Export Terminal $10.000  
Texas Corpus Christi Industrial ExxonMobil Ethane Cracker Plant $10.000  
Louisiana Cameron Industrial Calcasieu Pass – LNG Project $4.500  
Florida Orlando Engineering/Civil Virgin Trains (formerly Brightline Express) – Second Phase $4.000  
Georgia Lithia Springs Commercial Switch Data Center Campus (Project Hoover) $2.500  
Texas Houston Engineering/Civil Permico Energia LLC Permian Basin Natural Gas Liquids Pipeline $2.000  
Texas Kyle Engineering/Civil Permian Highway Pipeline Project (natural gas) $2.000  
Georgia Commerce Industrial SK Innovation Factory, Motor Vehicle Battery Plant  $1.670  
Alabama Madison Industrial Toyota Mazda Auto Plant / Southpoint Industrial Park / Huntsville  $1.600  
Texas Beaumont Industrial Ethane Export Facility – Martin Midstream Partners $1.500  
Texas Beaumont Industrial ExxonMobil Expansion $1.500  
Kentucky Hebron Industrial Amazon Prime Air Distribution Center – Cincinnati Airport $1.500  
Georgia Brookhaven Institutional Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Replacement Hospital Campus  $1.500  
Texas Texas City Industrial Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery $1.200  
Alabama Woodstock Industrial Mercedes-Benz Battery Factory  $1.000  
Texas Austin Commercial Apple Campus / North Austin  $1.000  
           
      Sum $47.470 60.0%
Data source and table: ConstructConnect.

Washington and Wyoming Led the West for Mega Projects in 2019

The West accounted for the final one-fifth (19.4%) of the U.S. total dollar volume of mega project starts last year.

Washington with three projects and Wyoming with two figured prominently in the West’s mega projects inventory. Washington was home to rapid transit work and a Microsoft headquarters expansion. Wyoming featured a wind power station and a crude oil pipeline.

Elsewhere in the West, Arizona could boast of a light rail extension; Nevada of a new casino project; and Colorado of an Amazon fulfilment center.

Notably missing from the catalogue of jurisdictions in the West with mega projects last year was the large-population and large-economy state of California.

Table 3: U.S. 2019 ‘Mega’ Construction Project Starts (i.e., Projects of $1 Billion or More Each) – West
  west       Share of 
State City/County Type of Structure Name/Description of Project $ Billions U.S. Total
           
Washington Seattle Commercial Lynnwood Link Extension – Sound Transit, Alterations $3.200  
Wyoming Saratoga Engineering/Civil Energy Vision 2020 Wind Power Station Upgrades $3.100  
Washington Lynnwood (north Seattle) Engineering/Civil Sound Transit Lynnwood Link Extension – Northgate to NE 200th $2.770  
Washington Redmond Commercial Microsoft Campus Headquarters Expansion  $2.000  
Arizona Phoenix Engineering/Civil South Central Light Rail Extension $1.300  
Nevada Las Vegas Commercial Circa Resort & Casino $1.000  
Colorado Colorado Springs Industrial Amazon Fulfilment Center – Project Rodeo  $1.000  
Wyoming Hulett Engineering/Civil Equality Pipeline (crude oil) $1.000  
           
      Sum $15.370 19.4%
           
Data source and table: ConstructConnect.

2019 Not a Typical Year for Mega Project Start-ups in Canada

In Canada, where ‘mega’ project groundbreakings are traditionally a big part of the annual construction scene, they were mainly absent in 2019. There were only four such projects, although two of them were quite out-sized. The total value of the four projects was $16.7 billion.

The two biggest mega projects were both pipelines located in Western Canada: TransMountain (oil) for $7.4 billion and Coastal GasLink (natural gas) for $6.2 billion.

Furthermore, all four mega project initiations occurred in the second half of the year. 2019’s first half was silent on the mega project front.

In 2018, there had been eight mega project start-ups in Canada for a total value of $31.4 billion.

In 2018, Canada’s mega project total of $31.4 billion relative to the U.S. total of $47.2 billion was impressive. The favorable comparison is dialed back a little, however, when the currency exchange rate is considered. The $31.4 billion for north of the border was in lower-valued Canadian dollars.


Alex Carrick is Chief Economist for ConstructConnect. He has delivered presentations throughout North America on the U.S., Canadian and world construction outlooks. Mr. Carrick has been with the company since 1985. Links to his numerous articles are featured on Twitter @ConstructConnx, which has 50,000 followers.

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