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It’s hard to believe that a little more than a decade ago, compact excavators were basically unknown in the United States. Long popular in Europe and Asia because their compact size allowed them to work in small areas of large, congested cities, the first Japanese compact excavators that began appearing on American job sites brought curiosity, even amusement, and their potential was not at first recognized.

McGraw-Hill Construction, part of The McGraw-Hill Companies, has released its 2011 Construction Outlook, which predicts an increase in overall U.S. construction starts for next year. The level of construction starts in 2011 is expected to advance 8 percent to $445.5 billion, following the 2 percent decline predicted for 2010.

UCT's second day came through with talked-about educational sessions and busy aisles. But perhaps the highlight of the day for most was a lively evening starting at the UCT Networking Reception, where exhibitors, speakers and attendees were invited to enjoy free drinks and appetizers. Exclusive pictures and the show daily for Thursday available inside.

Rev. William Kaina blessed the new micro tunnel-boring machine during the christening ceremony in Honolulu, HI. He is standing with Patricia Coluccio next to one of the CCFRPM pipes.

Here's the latest from the UCT International Conference and Exhibition going on now at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX. What are you missing? Yesterday, trenchless industry association UCTA bestowed its annual Most Valuable Professional Award on CIGMAT's Dr. Cumaraswamy Vipulanadan, Ph.D. Barbco unveiled a much-requested disc cutter, debuting at UCT after over a decade's wait for a commercial offering. UCT's first ever SafeZone started offering attendees a shot at locating a tricky line on-site, while the Rehab Zone showed off with live demonstrations of three separate technologies.

Roger Kirwan, vice president of marketing for Vacmasters, Denver, CO, has retired after working 17 years with the company. Considered by many to be an expert in air-vacuum excavation, Kirwan spent his career at Vacmasters advising the community in the best practices when considering excavation work where underground utilities are present.

HammerHead Trenchless Equipment of Oconomowoc, WI, announced the addition of Ryan Boldan to its sales team and Paul Rogers as global accounts manager.

Superior Drillpipe has just passed its third year in business in Houston, TX, and the company is going strong despite the tough times it’s growing up in. “Business is very good,” said Superior’s Kris Mudge, in an interview with Underground Construction. “We’ve got a nice backlog into 2011.”

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Jan. 19 that it is withdrawing its proposed interpretation titled “Interpretation of OSHA’s Provisions for Feasible Administrative or Engineering Controls of Occupational Noise.”

Since its inception, a primary responsibility of the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA) has been to negotiate collective bargaining agreements with the four international unions with pipeline jurisdiction--the Teamsters, United Association, Operating Engineers and Laborers.