Construction activity in California is up 11.4 percent for the first eight months of 2004 compared with the same period last year, totaling $52.18 billion, the Construction Industry Research Board reported today.

All construction sectors are up year-to-date in California except government-owned buildings construction, which is down 4.4 percent. This downturn was in spite of booming school construction, which is up 11.1 percent or $388.6 million from the same period last year.

Heavy construction in the first eight months totals $5.54 billion, up 8.9 percent or $452.6 million more from last year. The largest project reported in August is a $67.8 million freeway project in San Diego County. In addition, a $1.39 billion suspension bridge project in San Francisco is pending. The bid was opened in May but there is no contract award as of yet.

Total construction activity for the month of August is $6.64 billion, up 5.2 percent from July and up 10.4 percent from August 2003. All construction sectors were up in August.

Ben Bartolotto, director for the research board, said the overall trend so far in 2004 indicates that private building construction is up, with monthly fluctuations determined by large projects, while public government-owned building construction is declining with the exception of school construction.

Private building construction, residential and nonresidential, in August, totals $5.37 billion, up 6 percent from July and up 21.3 percent from August 2003. Year-to-date, private building activity totals $40.38 billion, up 14.7 percent from the year-ago period, the board also reported. Of that total, private nonresidential building, by itself, totals $10.44 billion, up 12 percent or $1.12 billion from last year.

Bartolotto said more than 80 percent of that increase is in Southern California, with sizable gains also found in the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley regions.

“The increase in private nonresidential building in August, up 8.8 percent, is due mainly to an increase in the dollar value of large projects,” said Bartolotto. The dollar volume of the largest private nonresidential building projects in August is $287.8 million, up from $179 million in July and up from $140.8 million in August 2003. Included in the August total for Los Angeles County is a $96 million office building in Century City.

The board is forecasting total nonresidential building to increase by 7.1 percent in 2004, to $14.89 billion, which follows three years of “substantial decline.”

The research board, established in 1974, is a nonprofit research center that provides statistical information for the California building and construction industry.

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