Tenn. Contractor Speaks Out on ARRA

Tue March 30, 2010 - Southeast Edition
CEG



Federal transportation and infrastructure investment is positively impacting the economy and supporting job creation. A review of transportation contract awards from all sources, a leading indicator of future construction activity, from the ten months before and after release of the recovery act’s transportation funds reveals:

• highway contract awards increased 19.4 percent;

• bridge contracts are up 14.6 percent;

• airport awards have grown 61.2 percent; and,

• transit contracts climbed 216 percent.

That was the message of Tennessee highway contractor Steve Wright, president of Charleston, Tenn.-based Wright Brothers Construction Company, a second-generation family-owned firm, in testimony March 26 to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, at a progress report hearing on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

“Going into 2009, we faced a severe recession, uncertainty about the federal surface transportation program reauthorization and continued state budget difficulties,” Wright said. “Transportation construction firms laid off almost 25,000 employees in 2008 and early 2009. The one bright spot for our sector was the recovery act’s transportation investments.”

Wright noted that the two-year negative transportation construction market trend began reversing in May of last year — the same point at which recovery act funds began supporting projects. He also said that ARRA “provides only a temporary solution,” that will continue to support work and job creation in 2010 — spending that will quickly phase down.

“Many of the jobs supported by the bill will begin to disappear,” Wright said. “To sustain and build on ARRA and re-energize the long-term growth potential of the United States, we must not lose sight of the need to enact a six-year surface transportation authorization bill at the $500 billion funding level proposed by the committee as soon as possible.”