The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system expansion project is a full year ahead of schedule due to a lack of rain over the last two years. The $3.2 billion project will extend the line by 16 miles from the San Francisco, California area to southern Freemont, Milpitas, and San Jose. The extension to Beerysea was supposed to be finished in 2018, but now Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) officials expect it to be completed by late 2017.

The DC Tower 1, located along the Danube River in Vienna, Austria, officially opened last week and became the country’s tallest building. Construction on the smaller DC Tower 2 will begin shortly and will be completed in two years. The two towers are part of the Donau City project that has been transforming the Donube riverfront in Vienna over the last 20 years.

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One of the largest “spec” office building projects in the world recently broke ground in Houston, Texas. Houston-based international real estate company Hines is developing the 48-story, 756-foot skyscraper. The company announced their plan to build the tower, referred to as 609 Main at Texas, in 2011 and has since increased the size of the project. The building will be the 23rd skyscraper that Hines has built in downtown Houston.

Construction has finally begun on the 709-foot, 61-story skinny residential skyscraper located at 610 Lexington Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. The tower, originally proposed in 2005, was delayed due to the recession in 2007 and eventually put on an indefinite hold in 2009. In March 2012, developer RFR Holding LLC regained control of the site and announced their plans to complete the project.

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The United States Department of Transportation released its biennial conditions and performance report last Friday. The report stated that all levels of the country’s government must spend between $123.7 billion and $145.9 billion per year to maintain and improve the conditions of the United State’s roads and bridges. The report analyzed data from 2010 and found that the U.S. spent roughly $100 billion on infrastructure that year including $12 billion provided by the stimulus package to help the economy during the recession. The U.S. DOT strongly encourages spending increases to avoid any further deterioration to the country’s roads and bridges.

The Colorado Department of Transportation finalized the state’s first public-private partnership contract last week. The contract allows private consortium Plenary Roads Denver to complete the second phase of the U.S. 36 Managed Lanes project. In addition to expanding and approving the existing highway between Denver and Boulder, Plenary Roads Denver will also be required to maintain the road for 50 years.

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Material testing is about to get underway on the world’s next tallest building in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom Tower will have an architectural height of 1,000 meters once finished, over 130 meters taller the current tallest building the Burj Khalifa. Thornton Tomasetti was hired as the structural engineering firm for skyscraper and the project is expected to cost $1.23 billion. The tower is the first phase of a the three phase Kingdom City development project. The total cost to build Kingdom City will be around $20 billion.