Bob Briant, Utility Transportation Contractors Association (UTCA) CEO, spoke at Foley Incorporated Inc.’s 2009 annual meeting, held Feb. 5th at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Somerset, N.J. The UTCA is made up of approximately 1,100 member firms active in the construction industry market, both public and private.
Briant started off by thanking both the Foley family and Foley employees for being supportive of the construction industry over the years. He added that Foley is always front and center when the UTCA needs support, and encouraged everyone to stay positive, because good things are on the horizon, despite the current recession.
Briant stated, “We believe that public construction is going to be the first sector that is going to pick up in this recovery; It’s going to lead the way for this country. Right now there are many things going on in Congress, and a lot of things going on in the state of New Jersey, that are going to benefit the public construction market.”
Briant went on to explain that The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide funding for construction, get people back to work and help businesses stabilize. There will be an increase in bid activity beginning in the second quarter of 2009. Additionally, with reauthorization of the Clean Water Act, more funds will go toward clean water, sewer, flood control, etc.
Currently at $1.5 billion annually, the budget will increase to $9 billion per year. This will guarantee significant funding for 4 to 5 years, according to Briant.
“The recent toll increase on the N.J. Turnpike was critical to keep us afloat until we see better times. The Turnpike will be putting out $620 million of work between March and September. There may be so much work that contractors may not even have enough time to bid all that is available. At the same time, profit margins should start to stabilize, and businesses will be able to start purchasing equipment again. With only five more months left in the fiscal year, we will see a lot of construction work becoming available. The D.O.T. will be bidding out almost $466 million between now and June 30th.
“The current stimulus package includes investments in construction such as roads, bridges and rail, concrete and asphalt, as well as the construction of new schools and medical facilities. We should start seeing some stimulus projects late June, possibly being awarded between July and October. This will mean significant cash flow for contractors during late third quarter, and by 2010, the industry should be active,” Briant said.
Briant summed up his talk by encouraging Foley employees to “stick with it” over the next few months. He predicted an up-turn in construction beginning in the second half of 2009, and anticipated significant work for the next ten years.