Highways and bridges will be among the hottest markets for design and construction firms in 2006, according to “2006 AEC Industry Outlook: Strategy and Insight for Design & Construction Firms,” a new report from ZweigWhite.

“Despite increasing pessimism about the U.S. economy as a whole, design and construction firm leaders are very optimistic about how their firms, and the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry as a whole, will perform in 2006,” says Christopher Klein, a principal with ZweigWhite. “More than 70% of firm leaders project their business will be outstanding or excellent next year. Broad-based growth in the design and construction industry should continue into 2006.”

The passage of the new federal surface transportation bill, nicknamed SAFETEA-LU, in August 2005, will provide a significant boost to the highways and bridges market. There is a pent-up demand in the market due to the nearly two years that passed before a long-term surface transportation bill could be agreed upon. Now that federal funding is secure through September 2009, project owners have more certainty on long-term funding and will move ahead.