Rising costs, extensive hurricane-related road and bridge repair work and payouts from land ownership lawsuit settlements have put extra stress on North Carolina Dept. of Transportation’s budget, forcing the agency to lay off hundreds of temporary and contract workers. Although NCDOT hopes to rehire most of the workers next year, the layoffs will limit operations and maintenance activities statewide for the remainder of 2019. Another active storm season could force additional budget shuffling as well.
NCDOT spent approximately $300 million in storm-response work last year, yet has received only a small fraction of its eligible federal emergency funding reimbursement. Payouts to settle lawsuits challenging a 30-year-old land ownership law have also cost the agency more than $311 million. NCDOT expects the layoffs to minimally affect construction activities, and believes current projects will remain on schedule. The agency also plans to award an estimated $2.5 billion worth of contracts that had previously been scheduled. Bids are expected to be let in the coming months.