Local News

DOT stays busy despite cuts

Posted September 4, 2009 5:26 p.m. EDT
Updated April 27, 2011 10:43 a.m. EDT

— Since last year, the state Department of Transportation has delayed roughly 75 percent of its projects. Despite less construction statewide, officials said its employees are staying busy.

Mark Foster, DOT's chief financial officer, said employees have been “either planning for future projects or they’re heavily involved in the maintenance of our 170,000 lane-miles of infrastructure and 18,000 bridges throughout the state.”

But late last year, economic reality set in when the department cut about 1,000 part-time employees.

Two full-time positions were cut last year. Both were vacant at the time.

This fiscal year, the DOT is eliminating 938 full-time vacant positions, including 187 administrative and 751 field positions.

Industry experts said the private sector has responded to the economic slowdown much quicker.

“We have experienced, over the past two years, 20 to 30 percent layoffs across the board in our industry,” said Christie Barbee, of the Carolina Asphalt Pavement Association. The association represents private sector road builders

Barbee said the industry is the worst it's ever been.

“It has been frustrating in the past that we were seeing the layoffs and there was so little work coming out of the department and yet there were not any layoffs,” Barbee said.

While she never celebrates job cuts, Barbee said she is seeing a culture change with the DOT’s new administration.

“Now, I think they’re making all the right decisions,” Barbee said.

Officials said the department had appropriately anticipated the economic downturn, which is why all the positions cut were vacant.