Carolinas Highway Contractors Prepare For Heavy Work Volume

Federal Funds, State Bonds and Low Interest Rates Account for Increase

Jul 23, 1998, 01:00 ET from Carolinas AGC

    CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 23 /PRNewswire/ -- North and South Carolina highway
 officials have told highway contractors that both states will soon see a
 significant increase in highway work.
     Total highway funding appropriations in North Carolina are expected to
 exceed $1.5 billion in 1999 (federal-aid program plus interstate bonding
 program), representing about a 7% increase. SC Department of Transportation's
 highway funding appropriations in FY 1999 will be about $625 million. When
 combined with the anticipated State Infrastructure Bank projects, SC
 contractors could see $1 billion in transportation construction awarded in
     Carolinas Associated General Contractors asked top officials from both
 states' Departments of Transportation about business prospects throughout the
 next six years. According to North Carolina Highway Administrator Len
 Sanderson, the NCDOT expects a 56% increase in federal funding as the result
 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). Similarly, the
 SCDOT is expecting a 70% increase over the funding level of the last six
 years. Federal funding levels for NC are said to grow to an annual average of
 $740 million over the next six years, while SC's federal funding will reach an
 approximate $425 million a year.
     In addition to the federal activity, both states are moving forward with
 aggressive state highway bonds. According to Elizabeth Mabry, Executive
 Director of SCDOT, "now is a good time for us to take advantage of low
 interest rates. The issuance of bonds by SCDOT and SIB, along with local
 funding, will allow us to catch up with some of the state's pressing needs."
     The South Carolina Joint Bond Review Committee is scheduled to meet
 tomorrow to consider nearly $1 billion in construction projects to be built
 over the next five years in addition to projects contained in the federal-aid
 program. North Carolina's bonding program is already well underway with about
 $250 million of an authorized $950 million in bonds authorized in November
 1997 already sold.
     Sanderson and Mabry both stated that their Departments will, for the first
 time, factor in both inflationary costs and typical project overruns in the
 programmed amounts used to develop their programs. This will reduce the number
 of projects, but will result in more realistic programs and letting schedules.
     According to Carolinas AGC Executive Vice President and CEO Stephen
 Gennett, this is good news for all areas of the construction industry. "Not
 only will this prove beneficial to our highway members' businesses, but with
 additional and improved roads come additional homes, retail centers, office
 buildings and utility work. There will be significant growth in investment,"
 he says.
     Carolinas AGC's mission is to build its 3,400 members' businesses through
 workforce development, business development, profit management, and CompTrust
 AGC - a self-insured workers' compensation trust for members. More than 75
 percent of commercial and industrial construction (buildings,
 highways/bridges, utility facilities) in both North and South Carolina are
 performed by Carolinas AGC members.

SOURCE Carolinas AGC