Construction

Renee Dominguez for KUT

A new study shows immigrants have an outsized impact on Austin’s economy.

Overall, 4.8 million immigrants in Texas paid $34.8 billion in taxes and had an economic footprint of $109.9 billion, according to an analysis of 2017 census data from the bipartisan immigrant advocacy group New American Economy.

Courtesy of We Print Houses

An Austin-based company is ushering in 3D technology that makes it easier for builders to print homes.

Residential building company Sunconomy LLC and California-based Forge New last week introduced We Print Houses, a system that can be licensed by contractors and builders to construct homes in only a few months.

Bill Jacobus/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

If you were to walk south on Congress Avenue in Austin, you'd notice at least six construction cranes. You can see a similar scene in cities all across the Lone Star State. Day and night, construction crews are busy at work, and business is good –  or it would be if there were enough workers to get the jobs done.  

This week, the Associated General Contractors of America released a report with data from 2,500 contractors. It confirms what we've been hearing: There is a labor shortage.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard.

Construction is a booming business in Texas. The latest numbers from 2016 show it’s a $75 billion industry in the state. There’s more demand for construction workers than there are people willing to do the jobs, and that means it’s gotten hard for contractors like Denis Phocas to hold onto qualified workers.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard.

According to the latest numbers from 2016., construction is a $75 billion industry in Texas. It’s an industry we’ve reported on before on the Standard. Including a big story last year. While our reporter was on the ground in Houston, she came across something pretty rare; a female construction worker.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The rising cost of construction has made it harder to build affordable homes in Central Austin, housing analysts said Thursday at the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin midyear housing forecast event.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr., KUT News.

A program the Austin City Council approved in March to fast-track permitting for builders who pay construction workers at least $13.50/hr, offer training in safety and worker's compensation along with other requirements could be eliminated as part of an effort in the Texas legislature to speed up construction permitting.

We spoke to Texas Tribune reporter Andy Duehren about his story on this.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

An increase in immigration enforcement and proposed policies from President Donald Trump may be taking a toll on businesses that rely on an immigrant workforce. Some in Austin's construction community say undocumented workers don’t feel safe reporting to work.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Have you ever looked up at construction cranes around town and wondered why it takes so long for things to get built in Austin? Developers will quickly say the city's permitting process has a lot to do with it. Now the city is about to start a new program to hopefully speed things up, but with speed comes a new set of rules.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin’s booming population continued to grow in 2016, which helped fuel another strong year for the housing market. But some analysts say the region’s home sales could begin to see a slowdown in the year ahead.

One of the biggest factors that draw people to the Central Texas region – employment – isn’t growing quite as fast as it used to. Eldon Rude, principal of 360 Real Estate Analytics, said that could signal a weaker growth in home sales for the year ahead.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Builders in Austin have long complained about the city’s notoriously slow permitting process. Now, the city is set to launch a new program that will offer a faster option - but it comes with some costs. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin residents are no strangers to orange cones dotting the highways or construction cranes in the sky. But one KUT listener wondered: Why does it take so long to get anything built around here? 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Amir Khalil and his girlfriend Emily Thomas bought a duplex off South Lamar in February, but so far, it doesn’t feel quite like home.

Khalil points out the damage that’s left over from an incomplete remodel job on the house. The laundry room ceiling bares a gaping hole. In the kitchen, sections of the walls and ceiling have been torn out.


Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

It seems like everywhere you look, there's a construction site in Austin, complete with the unofficial state bird of Texas, the construction crane.

Some are calling it a boom, but it's a boom that’s not exclusive to Austin. Whether you drive south to San Marcos or north to Georgetown, there are new buildings popping up all over Central Texas.

That boom has certainly been good for the economy and overall employment numbers, but, for some smaller construction firms it’s been tough-going trying to compete with larger outfits that can afford to pay workers up to $35 an hour.

Caleb Bryant-Miller/KUT News

The bats that roost under the Congress Avenue Bridge have a hard-flown journey after their nightly show for tourists and passersby.

They cruise over the trees bordering Lady Bird Lake's southern shore – flying up to 40 miles away from the city every night – then come back, roost and feast on insects between Congress Avenue and I-35.

Flickr/austin tx http://www.flickr.com/photos/austintx/

The City of Austin says it has cleared a major backlog of residential permit reviews.

The Planning and Development Review Department’s director Greg Guernsey says they processed more than 650 applications in the last month. The backlog had resulted in people waiting weeks to get city approval for renovations or new home construction. 

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

Good morning! Austin’s in for another warm day, although not as hot as yesterday’s record highs: we can expect a high near 80 degrees and increasing cloud cover as the day continues, according to the National Weather Service.

Lead Story: Jury selection began yesterday in the trial of a man accused of killing Michael Morton’s wife in 1986.Morton was the Austin man who spent almost 25 years prison for his wife’s murder, before he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2011. 

Photo courtesy the Circuit of the Americas

F1 is still three weeks away. Or only three weeks away, as the city is looking at it. Austin is making some big preparations as the big race weekend approaches.

City Cleanup

  • The Public Works Operation will be cleaning up downtown around all the construction sites.
  • City contractors will clean and restore pedestrian access areas downtown.
  • Austin Resource Recovery is planning ahead for the big weekend. They will adding up to 200 additional trash receptacles downtown.  They will also be ramping up their downtown litter control services to extended to a much larger area.

Starting this weekend, you should expect some lane closures on southbound I-35 around Stassney Lane.

Last month, a truck hauling an oversized load ran into the underside of the bridge, damaging it.

Though the Texas Department of Transportation says the crash didn’t make the bridge unsafe, it needs to be repaired – and that’s expected to take more than two weeks.

City of Austin

Construction on Oltorf Street may disrupt your commute this week.

The city has closed part of Oltorf Street between South Congress Avenue and Interstate 35 to complete work on water lines. All westbound lanes are closed. One eastbound lane remains open.

The construction is scheduled to last through Friday but some closures may continue through the weekend.

State Highway 130 Concession Company

Despite setbacks, State Highway 130 is still set to open in its entirety by November. The toll road will connect the North Austin area with Interstate 10, hopefully easing traffic on Interstate 35.

But SH-130 was the victim of drought-induced damage to its structural integrity. Once-moist clay dried out and contracted, causing shifts in the ground underneath the asphalt and cracking the road on top. Parts of the 41-mile stretch of road between Mustang Ridge and Seguin need to be redone and preventative measures are being taken to keep the damage from reoccurring.

SH-130 is being constructed by a private company, acting as a proxy for the Texas Department of Transportation. Chris Lippinpott is the spokesman for the State Highway 130 Concession Company, the organization in charge of the design, construction, finance, operation, and maintenance of the highway. Lippincott says the cost of the road will total nearly $1.325 billion.

courtesy flickr.com/carlos

A vigil will be held tomorrow to honor the life of José Lainez, who died helping build bridges between Highways 183 and 290. 

Lainez, who was originally from Honduras, had worked as a construction worker in Austin for the past twelve years. He was 54 at the time of his death, and in reportedly good health. 

The deceased’s family contends that his death was caused by heat exhaustion, brought on by a lack of rest and water breaks. 

An Austin City Council ordinance, passed in July 2010, requires employers to provide construction workers with water and rest breaks. There is no state law that requires such breaks.

City Hall photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Rome wasn’t built in a day – and should it expand in Austin, computing-giant Apple’s “Americas Operations Center” would take some time too.

At today’s meeting of the Austin City Council, company representatives stated it would take four years to build a 200,000 square foot facility in Northwest Austin if Apple decides to expand here.

That was one of the details the council learned today at a meeting on the proposed property tax rebate agreement the city is considering with Apple. We wrote in detail about the contract yesterday.

View Ben White Closure in a larger map

Construction on Ben White Freeway interchange will begin at 8 p.m. tonight, and last till Sunday morning. TxDOT will divert west-bound traffic on to east-bound lanes configuring one lane in each direction for about two miles.

View Rio Grande and 24th St. Closure in a larger map

It might be harder to cruise around West Campus this weekend when a major intersection shuts down for construction.

Beginning on Friday at 9 am, the intersection at Rio Grande St. and 24th St. will be closed and will not reopen until Monday at 6 am. The street is being closed because crews are working on water lines, storm drains and road reconstruction.

Heads up from the City of Austin. You won't be able to drive west on Oltorf this weekend from I-35. You will be able to drive east but traffic could be slower than usual.  Here's the full release.