Archive for February, 2011

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

No one quite knows who said it first*, but the saying goes: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Keep this phrase in mind when you hear about housing statistics in 2011; they all need to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

First, any talk of growth in the home building market must take into account that the market has been dismal the past few years. A 20% or 30% improvement is obviously better than a decrease; but given the overall anemic level of activity since the bubble burst, we’re still talking about a down market. A more revealing and reliable comparison would match any current numbers against a similar time period in the middle of the decade. (Keeping in mind, of course, that those numbers were inflated by the unsustainable housing boom.)

Second, home sales activity and home prices in early 2011 or late 2010, when compared against the prior year, need to weigh the fact that the homebuyers’ tax credit drove the market higher than it otherwise would have been. The credit expired in spring of 2010, followed by a predictable drop in both buying activity and prices.

So when you read housing statistics for the second half or 2010 or first half of 2011, read between the lines. And, as with all statistics, look for the proper context and keep the salt shaker handy.

*Benjamin Disraeli, Mark Twain and others have been credited with coining the phrase about lies and statistics, but it remains unclear exactly who said or wrote it first.

FINLEY on team for fast-track repairs to Brevard County bridges

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Our client, specialty bridge engineer Finley Engineering Group (FINLEY), is part of a team that is working to complete repairs to two badly damaged bridges in Brevard County, Florida, in less than a month.

Their press release follows:

TALLAHASSEE, Florida — – The Lane Construction Corporation, on behalf of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), selected Finley Engineering Group (FINLEY) to serve as a specialty engineer to design repairs for a pair of Brevard County bridges damaged in a horrific accident involving a 20,000-gallon fuel tanker truck.

The team has only 25 days to complete the repairs to the North Courtenay Parkway overpass bridges on State Road 528 crossing SR 3. According to news reports, an hour-long barrage of heat spalled concrete off beams supporting both the eastbound and westbound bridges of the overpass, exposing and damaging the rebar that bolsters them.

Both drivers were killed in the January 21 crash.

The $2.191 million, around-the-clock project entails replacement of two spans of each bridge as well as the columns supporting the span. The bridge is a key component of the transportation system on Merritt Island, providing access for motorists who work at Kennedy Space Center, ride buses to area schools, take cruises out of Port Canaveral, shop at local retailers and visit Brevard’s beaches.

“We’re honored to be part of a team responding to this emergency situation,” says FINLEY Managing Principal Craig Finley, P.E. “Two lives were tragically lost, the bridge was badly damaged and thousands of commuters are being inconvenienced every day. With this always in mind, we accept the great responsibility of working with Lane Construction and FDOT to quickly and efficiently repair the bridge to lessen the effects on the community and return the transportation network to normal as soon as possible.”

Following the Friday accident, FDOT solicited bids from three teams, awarding the project to the Lane Construction team on early Sunday morning, January 23. FINLEY submitted the prestressed girder design to Lane on Sunday afternoon, and work began immediately. The repairs are expected to be complete by February 16.