By Robert Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief
The first major event of 2018 is the annual Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exhibition (UCT) scheduled for Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 in New Orleans. By now, most have made their plans to attend the preeminent event of the underground industry for 2018. But for those dragging their feet, you’d better hurry up and register – it’s going to be a doozy of a show!
Sets the standard.
This is the educational program that all other events of the year will be compared to. UCT is the benchmark for modern industry education with its mix of formal presentations, case studies, panels and generic, no-sales-pitch sessions. UCT is well-known for its interactive panel discussions with industry experts.
UCT is well-known for supplying more than just technical or vendor product information. Its sessions – especially case studies – provide critical owner, design and construction perspectives. The sessions share solutions to difficult problems. People leave UCT with information that can provide answers to their everyday job challenges.
Quite simply, UCT is the business of underground. Being the first major event of the year, countless companies use UCT to meet privately and with customers to plan their year. Equipment is evaluated and the purchase process begins; engineers meet with owners to initiate the design process; contractors obtain information on projects coming up for bid – both private and public. At UCT, everyone has business on their minds, along with optimism for a profitable year. In addition to the educational sessions, large exhibit hall and special events such as the RehabZone, UCT coordinates several networking opportunities to facilitate actual business activities as we move into an active 2018!
From private company meetings to a plethora of association committee sessions, UCT presents the unique opportunity for the entire industry to start the multitude of 2018 activities for various markets.
Like no other, the diverse nature of the UCT exhibit hall covers all the basis for underground activities. From trenchless to open cut, new construction to rehabilitation, UCT reflects the unique nature of modern construction needs, challenges and solutions.
New Orleans, baby.
This fabulous city is recognized world-wide for its incredible history, diverse activities and amazing cuisine. Combine the best education and business opportunities for your business or utility that you’ll receive at UCT with the special ambience that is New Orleans, and it’s easy to see why this is such an unbeatable combination.
UCT is right around the corner. You can’t afford to miss it: uctonline.com.
Feckless outlooks, predictions
Energy pipeline construction not only regained its footing in 2017, but is once again speeding ahead with reckless abandon for 2018. Projects previously shelved have been resurrected at an amazing pace while new projects are emerging. The rebound of oil prices, combined with a desperate need to distribute oil and gas products, has hit a critical status. Of course, an active and fully staffed FERC has also sped up the approval process – especially with mountains of useless and unnecessary paperwork and excessive regulations going to the way of the dodo.
Expect a very strong pipeline construction market for 2018. And of course, that means large directional drilling will be on fire again.
On the other hand, sewer, water and stormwater languish to some degree, depending upon various local markets and available funding. The need for infrastructure spending only increases with age – and that’s not a good thing. We’ve reached the point where “desperate” often doesn’t accurately describe the state of America’s sewer and water infrastructure.
To truly rally the construction and rehabilitation markets, it is time for the mythical infrastructure bill to become reality. Such a program has been discussed ad nauseam. But many pundits aren’t optimistic that it can be passed in 2018. My cynical nature regarding anything related to the federal government sways me towards the same conclusion.
But my optimistic side believes there are some positives that may actually drive a bill forward. This is an election year, and both Republicans and Democrats desperately need to appear functional and cooperative at some level in order to be perceived as competent to their constituencies. In short, they all need a victory to stimulate re-election bids and a reasonable, private-public spending package on infrastructure is a win for both parties. America wants some semblance of a functional government. An infrastructure bill is a popular option for all parties.
Quite frankly, I don’t care if an infrastructure bill passes because of good government or as merely a political tool, or even it such a bill slides until 2019. Just as long as an effective bill is passed.