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DOT stimulus funds going further than expected

Posted October 21, 2009

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is anticipating another $100 million in federal stimulus funding for highway and bridge projects after project bids have come in less than anticipated.

"The general overall savings is around an average of 20 percent, so far, on projects," Victor Barbour, the DOT's administrator for technical services, said Wednesday.

Highway Traffic Low bids leave more DOT stimulus funds

The state initially received $735 million designated for certain projects to help boost the economy. Because of the lower bids, the DOT has added more than 40 projects to its master list, bringing the total to 284. More are expected in the coming months.

Berry Jenkins, with the Carolinas Association of General Contractors, an interest group for contractors and road builders statewide, said however that the low bids are a reflection of the overall economy.

"They're just hoping, keeping their fingers crossed, that (the economy) will get better, that the recovery will turn around," he said.

The bigger concern for the group is what will happen to some of the companies once all the stimulus funds are assigned by next year.

"They're doing it to survive," he said. "There (are) companies that have told me, and I believe that they're being truthful, that if they did not take some work below their actual cost, they would have to close their doors."

"We have to do all we can to keep the contractors alive," Barbour said. "For us at DOT, competition is a wonderful thing. The more healthy contractors we have, the better we'll all be from a taxpayer perspective."

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  • Bendal1 Oct 22, 2009

    Actually, the contractors are underbidding the state's own estimates out of desperation. Getting some money coming in is better than getting no money at all, so they cut their costs to the bone to get the job.

    When the economy picks up and there's construction going on everywhere, both from the public and private side, contractors will bid up their prices because there will be more work than they can handle at any one time.

    Oh, and these stimulus projects are mostly small projects like resurfacing, intersection improvement and safety related. There's a few larger ones but most are like the ones I just mentioned.

    Now if Raleigh will get around to repaving the milled out portion of New Hope Road near US 64 Business...

  • Cragsdale Oct 22, 2009

    It's just funny to me that when you take all the 'Extra' hands out of the pot, that all of a sudden there is an increased amount of funding available to do the jobs that were originally slated to get done.

    But that's just my opinion.

  • affirmativediversity Oct 22, 2009

    What, did the NCDOT find someone willing to pave a mile of road for under 23 Million?

    Anyone actually see that "stimulus" construction taking place?

    Not ONE major road project in my entire county...how about yours?

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Oct 22, 2009

    These are typically large multi-million dollar projects. Some last a very long time. Contractors will low-bid the projects to just get them, and then he has few choices in how to actually make money. Do it faster than possible, hope SOMETHING else comes in to overlap, or beat the state up over change orders, which is the typical method. They look for ANY SMALL blip in the designs, and make it out to be the worst thing possible. We then have taxpayer employees spending massive amounts of time either defending something, or arguing a point. "Contractors" are not a bunch of fat cats rolling in money, we're talking about regular employees that get paid a regular salary....many of them are your neigbors and mine. I wish people would learn about how things really work, and realize that being successful in this country isn't a bad thing.

    Many of you are too lazy, or too incompetent to actually make something of yourself, so quit trying to make those that have out to be the enemy!!

  • Leonardo Oct 22, 2009

    I guess I'm confused. Why would you take a job AT A LOSS? If you're in a desperate financial condition, wouldn't taking jobs at a loss hasten your going out of business?

    Something sounds fishy about that. I assume what they really mean is that they're not making any money after they've paid all the salaries, including the salaries of the owners of these companies. So everyone is still making money, but the business itself is not reaping additional profits.

  • pbjbeach Oct 22, 2009

    I PERSONALY DO NOT HAVE ANY SYMPATH FOR THESE CONTRACTORS AS THAT ARE AN HAVE BEEN SCREWING OVER THE TAXPAYERS OF THIS STATE FOR LONG ENOUGH AS THAT THE STATE HAS ALLOWED FOR THEM TO BE PAID FOR ITEMS IN THE CONTRACTS THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO BE PAID FOR AT ALL WHEN THEY ARE JUST ABSOULTELY REFUSING TO ABIDE BY THE STATES SPECEFICIATIONS FOR ROADS & BRIDGES AN THESE CONTRACTOR ARE PROVIDING A OVERALL SORRIER QUALITY PRODUCT TO THE STATES TAXPAYERS WITH THE QUALITY OF THEIR ROADBUILDING WORK. I HAVE NO PITTY WHAT SO EVER AN WILL NOT HAVE UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THAT THEY START TO INCREASE THEIR QUALITY OF THEIR WORK BEING DONE TO THE POINT THAT TAXPAYERS DO NOT HAVE TO CONTINUE TO PAY TWO AN THREE TIME FOIR HAVING THE SAME WORK DONE THANK YOU

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Oct 22, 2009

    This isn't the good news that it seems to be on the surface. Companies are having to bid work at a loss, it's not the gravy train people that don't know what they're talking about would make you think. Now the problem is anyone working on these projects are under tremendous amounts of pressure to cut costs regardless of the impact. People are doing work with less experience, less oversight, less time.....this will end up costing the taxpayers in the long run from issues with quality we will see for a while.

    and yes, I'm in this line of business, I see this every day!

  • inform Oct 22, 2009

    Our great grandchildren will be so pleased as the pay the interest on the national debt.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Oct 21, 2009

    This is great.

    Thanks to the poor economy, the contractors are charging the DOT what they should for jobs instead of the usual overcharging and cost overruns.

    Wish the crooked contractors would behave the same way when the economy is good and the state has money to waste.