Road Science: Top 5 Trends of 2010
Could these developments influence the way you work next year?
Trying to identify major trends and developments that could affect the way highway and bridge construction is done in the next year is something of a challenge at best. But there are some activities that suggest they may impose themselves on, or begin to influence, the process.
1. The stimulus and the TIGER: floatation devices
Stimulus money will continue to affect the way state DOTs operate.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) economic stimulus law not only has benefited American roadbuilders, spurring rapid road reconstruction from coast-to-coast, but it has kept state DOTs from having to slash their budgets. Its effect will continue into 2010.
According to Federal Highway Administration data (FHWA), across the United States, state DOTs are meeting the act’s tight timeline for obligating their transportation funds, and nearly 4,000 ARRA-financed projects valued at $11 billion are now under construction in the United States.
Also potentially sustaining work through 2010 is the newer Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grant program. Under TIGER, up to $1.5 billion is available through Sept. 30, 2011, for the secretary of transportation to make grants on a competitive basis for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure. The response to TIGER was overwhelming; the U.S. DOT received $56.6 billion in project funding requests for the $1.5 billion TIGER discretionary grant program.
“In FY 2009 and FY 2010, federal stimulus funds prevented state spending from falling even more than it would have without the funds,” said Joung H. Lee, associate director for finance and business development, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), on Oct. 14.
But danger looms for FY 2011, Lee said. “Many states say they are looking at a cliff in 2011 because they know ARRA funding will be gone, and they do not expect state revenue performance to rebound strongly enough to make up the difference,” he said.
“Without a doubt, the stimulus has helped keep my company afloat during one of the most difficult economic periods our industry has ever experienced,” Gallagher testified on behalf of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). Gallagher has benefited from eight new transportation improvement projects that helped save 260 jobs, and create 30 new ones,
The impact of the ARRA is even more evident when looking at new highway contract awards, Gallagher said. During the first four months of 2009, state and local transportation departments awarded $2.1 billion fewer contracts for highway and bridge construction projects than during the same months of 2008, reflecting recession-driven cuts to state and local highway funding.
Since that time, however, in the period between May and August, the value of new contracts for highways and bridges had exceeded 2008 by almost $4 billion, with the ARRA more than offsetting state and local budgetary difficulties. The additional work has allowed transportation contractors to sustain and add to their workforce, Gallagher said.
“The proof is in the numbers,” said Butch Brown, executive director of the Mississippi DOT in early September. As of July, he said, the Mississippi DOT has spent nearly $2 million dollars on payroll. “That money is going straight into the pockets of hundreds of construction workers so they can make mortgage payments, buy groceries, and pay for back to school supplies and clothing,” Brown said.
Dan Flowers, executive director of Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, said that the majority of the state’s projects are being built in ‘economically depressed areas,’ which benefits those looking for work. “We’re putting people to work in every corner of our state,” he said.
John Horsley, AASHTO executive director, notes that ,”States are delivering projects on time and many cases under budget. “Now it’s up to Congress to keep the momentum going by passing a new six-year highway and transit authorization bill,” Horsley said.
2. New HMA layer coefficient means thinner layers, more pavement for the same budget
MORE FROM Featured Articles
- Sydney uses water curtains to alert drivers to stop (VIDEO)806 Views
- Obama signs memorandum to expedite infrastructure projects592 Views
- Florida’s Red Light Camera Game: G R E E N orange R E D289 Views
- Big four cellphone companies jointly launch anti-texting campaign267 Views
- Acceptance of connected vehicles depends on cost, LaHood says265 Views