Even as Congress begins debate on the President's economic recovery proposals, state and federal transportation officials are expediting the highway projects that will put thousands of workers back on the job.
"The urgency of implementing this recovery package is too great to waste time. An AASHTO task force has been working with the Federal Highway Administration to identify every conceivable method for getting these projects out to the field," said Executive Director John Horsley. Both AASHTO and the Federal Highway Administration have launched individual web sites to share the acceleration techniques. (See Expediting Economic Recovery Projects at www.transportation.org and http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/economicrecovery.)
"We continue to hear the nay-sayers cast doubt on how quickly this work can begin to help the nation's economic recovery. Their focus is on what's past and they fail to recognize the ability of Americans to rise to this kind of challenge. We believe Congress has more confidence in the nation's 'can-do' spirit and we are ready to meet its expectations." Horsley said.
Horsley identified some of the activities states are pursuing to prepare for the influx of federal funding:
- Reduced Advertising and Award Timeframes: States have been meeting with the contracting and consultant industry to inform them of the potential impact of the Economic Recovery Act and what will be expected of them, including the potential for reduced advertising periods and award timeframes for projects.
- Transportation Planning: Many states have begun work with MPOs to make necessary amendments to plans, Transportation Improvement Plans, and State Transportation Improvement Plans.
- Rehabilitation Projects: In many areas, states are focusing on rehabilitation projects that can be developed quickly. Identifying candidate projects is relatively easy because the needs far outpace the available funding. Designs are being kept simple and straight-forward to ensure speedy delivery.
- Regional Bridge Repair Contracts: Some states are considering regional bridge repair contracts with quantities and listing of repairs needed for each location. These are lump sum contracts intended to address significant bridge needs.
In the January 23, 2009 press release "CBO Should Consider States Have Projects 'Ready-to-Go'" AASHTO cited examples of recovery projects that can begin almost immediately. You can find the press release at: http://tinyurl.com/AASHTO-CBOresponse.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is the "Voice of Transportation" representing state departments of transportation in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association serving as a catalyst for excellence in transportation.