Dec 09

Heavies Help Build the Roads to Recovery


After five years of quiet, the sounds of grading equipment and concrete trucks are back in new residential subdivisions in the Kansas City area, which means more work for heavy constructors.

In April, 444 single-family building permits were issued—the highest for any month since April 2008, according to the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City. There were 337 permits in May, the best May since 2007, association data shows.

“Though the May numbers were a little short of April’s, the market is still continuing to improve,” said association Executive Vice President Sara Corless. “Every indicator is looking good and builders are going strong.”

Permits for multi-family housing totaled 1,450 through May, the most for any year since 2001, according to the association.

The rebound in home construction is good news for contractors that do grading, road and curb installation, but the full impact will take time, said John O’Donnell, president of
O’Donnell & Sons Construction Co.

O’Donnell said a lot of subdivisions already had streets and curbs installed before the recession hit. Those were the first locations to get new construction, but now new subdivisions are taking shape, he said.

“They had to get those old lots out of the system,” O’Donnell added.

Some developers went out of business and sold the lots at reduced prices, which turned out to be a good investment for buyers who sold the property as the market improved, O’Donnell noted.

Streets and curbing contractors are anxious to see more results from the housing rebound, said John T. Bowen, vice president of Superior Bowen Asphalt Company.

“We have been reading about the recovery but so far it has not translated into more road work for new subdivisions,” Bowen said. “It’s picked up a little, not a lot, but it’s coming. We are feeling good about it.”

Permit activity for 2013 compared to 2012 is up most on the Kansas side of the metro area, led by a 152 percent increase in Wyandotte County. Leavenworth County is up 55 percent, Johnson County 43 percent, and Miami County 33 percent.

In Missouri, Jackson County has had a 37 percent hike, with Platte County at 33 percent, Clay County 6 percent and Cass County 3 percent.