Yesterday, the New Jersey Alliance for Action hosted the 27th annual Construction Forecast Seminar with over 200 business, labor and construction professionals on hand to get a preview of the total projected public and private construction activity for 2012 and 2013.

The news was good.

New Jersey Alliance for Action's estimates of capital construction activity for the next two years show an 18% increase over the projections from the prior two-year period.

"As the construction economy goes so goes New Jersey's economy, so this is an important indicator or barometer as to whether the state is weathering this recession that we're in," says Alliance for Action president Phil Beachem.

In light of the current economic downturn, Beachem says he is pleased with the numbers in comparison to the 30% decline reported at last year's seminar. He cautions however that decisions to be made in Washington---particularly involving transportation, healthcare and civil works projects---could affect the construction projections made yesterday.

There is and always will be the need for transportation work whether it's new construction or repair. Beachem says, "It's a question of funding though. If you don't have the funding you can only do so much. These are not cheap projects they're expensive projects."

There's a glaring need for a recurring revenue source to fund transportation projects. Beachem thinks the state must become more involved in public-private partnerships. He knows of at least one revenue raising idea that won't fly. He explains, "A gas tax (increase) has always been the logical way to fund these projects, but reality says it's not happening and I don't think it's going to happen and we have to understand that it's not going to happen."

Positive highlights in yesterday's presentations came from increases in capital projects made by a number of the state's independent authorities and government agencies. These included: the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ Department of Transportation and NJ Turnpike Authority.

From the private sector, some of the major construction estimates came from NJ Utilities and New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.