Local News

DOT stimulus funds going further than expected

Posted October 21, 2009 6:33 p.m. EDT
Updated October 21, 2009 7:09 p.m. EDT

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.

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."