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Halloween weekend is upon us! Fun Fact - Americans spend on average $102.74 on Halloween-related items every year, including costumes, candy, and decorations. In fact, according to Statista (2022), consumers in the United States are actually expected to spend an all-time high of 10.6 billion U.S. dollars for the Halloween holiday. We love our spooky season!
Yesterday, our very own President, Valerie Seidel, along with Mallory L. Dimmitt (CEO, Florida Wildlife Corridor) provided insight on economic and policy trends affecting Florida transportation, including construction costs, funding, resilience, alternative vehicles, Justice40 and the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act at TeamFL's Quarterly Meeting.
This week we share stories regarding construction of a USACE salt barrier in Louisiana, a second railroad strike, and hydrogen injected power stations. Hope you enjoy the read and enjoy your weekend! Happy Halloween! Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested. If you'd like to view previous editions please click here, or to subscribe please click here!
USACE salt barrier in LA on MS river
Following on our piece in last week’s issue about low Mississippi (MS) water levels leading to much more expensive barge shipping costs, the USACE is nearing completion of an underwater levee built across the river to reduce saltwater impacts on water supply intakes. Construction started on Oct. 11 near Myrtle Grove, Louisiana. A sill is being created with dredged sand, and this sill will keep the denser saltwater – which moves upriver along the channel bottom – from causing more problems with water supply. Two water treatment plants in the area have already been affected. Water resource experts near the area have described it as “a taste of sea level rise.” Similar underwater sills were built in 1988, 1999 and in 2012 during very dry periods. Read more at USACE.
Second Railroad Union Rejects Deal, Adding to Strike Worries
The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) became the 2nd union to reject the deal due to the lack of paid sick time. But, the railroads argue that unions have agreed for decades to forgo paid sick leave in favor of higher wages and short-term disability benefits. The BRS has agreed to maintain status quo until early December, but the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division announced earlier in October that they would hold off any strike until November 19. The two largest unions have yet to vote and it is estimated that a strike would cost the economy $2 billion per day. Transport Topics
UK Trial Will Inject Hydrogen into a Gas-Fired, Grid-Connected Power Station
Hydrogen will be injected into a power station during a trial project that will last 12 months. Centrica, a company in London, will mix the hydrogen with natural gas to decrease the carbon intensity of the plant. This is coming after efforts by European governments to invest in hydrogen-based energy sources culminated in a 5.2 billion ($5.13 billion) euro investment form the European Commission. The goal is to make hydrogen more widely available and less niche in usage. Hydrogen can provide reliable energy for when wind and solar are not as effective. However, the source of hydrogen often comes from electricity being used to split the molecule of water into oxygen and hydrogen. If the source of this electricity is fossil fuels than the amount of carbon reduction hydrogen provides will be significantly less. Ensuring green energy is the source of hydrogen will provide the best result for carbon reduction. Read More
Construction Starts Down, Billings Up
According to Dodge Construction Network, total U.S. construction starts decreased 19% in September compared to August. However, total construction starts are still up 16% year-over-year. Nonresidential building construction starts are up 37% in September compared to the same month last year, while nonbuilding construction has risen 20%. Residential growth, on the other hand, was stagnant in September compared to 2021. However, the Architecture Billings Index still showed growth between August and September, indicating that business conditions for architects remains stable. Read more here and here.
Florida’s Housing Finance Agency Announces $5M in Aid for LMI Households
The Florida Housing Finance Corp. is providing $5 million to aid in paying property insurance deductibles to help low- and moderate- income (LMI) households in six counties affected by Hurricane Ian. The state’s housing finance agency set aside the funding from the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) for Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Lee and Sarasota counties. As of last week, nearly 400,000 property owners have filed claims in those counties and the burdensome deductibles on policies for hurricanes may exacerbate equity issues in rebuilding after disasters. Insurance Journal
Data Visualization of the Week
Fires Responsible for 23% of California's Emissions in 2020
Hotter, drier conditions in California have led to an increasing season and extent of wildfires. According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the state’s air-pollution regulator, the area burned during each fire season in California has been on the rise since 1950. Of the 20 largest fires measured since records began in 1932, 12 of them took place after 2016. The worst season so far was in 2020, when 1.7m hectares burned, contributing to 30% of the state's total emissions from other industries and half of the emissions budget the state has set for its 2030 climate target. Economist.