Officials with the North Carolina Dept. of Transportation see an expected federal stimulus package as a welcome boost to its sagging capital program. It has projects worth a total of $5 billion that could be �shovel-ready� within 180 days. Although there was a steady stream of contracts let in 2008, by December NCDOT had started laying off workers and reevaluating project needs.

“The North Carolina Dept. of Transportation is having to lay off temporary workers in its field offices and take other measures, because of funding cutbacks on the federal level as well as a drop in collections from the state motor fuels tax and states sales tax on motor vehicles, the primary sources of money for the department,” stated Gov. Michael E. Easley in a Dec. 5 release. “The money for road work by these temporary employees is just not here because of the cuts on the federal level and slowdown in state revenues.”

North Carolina’s list includes 35 new major construction projects with an estimated value of about $3.25 billion. Another 53 projects that are anticipated to be deferred add another $1.2 billion to the total. An estimated $730 million would be needed to fund 208 other projects that involve either pavement and bridge rehabilitation or reconstruction.

The Tar Heel state’s list includes a $733-million contract to build the Western Wake Freeway. Contracts for the Interstate 295 Fayetteville Outer Loop add up to more than $360 million. A single contract in Rowan and Davidson counties on Interstate 85, including construction of the Yadkin River Bridge, has an estimated cost of $330 million. A pair of contracts for the U.S. 17 Wilmington Bypass total more than $315 million, and a single Triangle Parkway contract is estimated at $185 million. A design-build contract for a bridge over Oregon Inlet on N.C. Highway 12 is tagged at $300 million.