Growth in civil engineering workload in 1997 was similar to that of 1996 according to the latest workload information from Glenigan.
But there are increasing signs that the civils sector is heading for a downturn in the long term as orders start to weaken.
In December civil engineering contract awards totalling £349M produced a year on year rise over the December 1996 figure of 36% (£93M).
But last month's figure was down on the £438.4M November figure.
The roads sector also showed signs of weakness, with orders falling from £159.5M recorded in November to just £67.1M - a reflection of hiatus caused by the government's Transport Review.
Signs that the overall civils market is weakening are confirmed by the latest provisional Department of Environment Transport & the Regions figures published this week.
These show that in November contractors received infrastructure orders worth £334M at current prices, down £60M on the figure for November 1996.
The DETR figures also indicate an overall flattening of construction demand, with total orders placed in November valued at £2.13bn compared with £2.08bn placed in November 1996.
Glenigan figures show that in December roads were the third largest source of work. Water
and sewerage orders dominated contract awards as the water companies strive to meet European water and sewage treatment standards. As a result water and sewerage produced contract awards worth £90.1M.
This year rail can also be expected to produce higher workloads in tunnels and bridges with the signing of the main tunnelling contracts for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link expected in the spring. Railtrack's investment programme is also likely to get into full swing this year.
But longer term prospects look weaker judging from figures for work put out to tender.
The value of civils work put out to tender last month was £354M, 14% down on the figure reported in December 1996. Last month's civil engineering tenders were also down on the previous month's figure of £636M.