Given the known sad state of California’s infrastructure, it was, unfortunately, not a surprise when the American Road & Transportation Builders Association released a report this week about construction job losses if “Capitol Hill fails to pass overdue legislation that provides multi-year federal aid to state highway and transit programs.”

The report, entitled “U.S. Transportation Construction Industry Profile” and prepared via U.S. Census data by ARTBA’s nonprofit Transportation Development Foundation, concludes that California can lose 354,590 jobs if federal aid is eliminated.

I don’t know about you, but with the deficit madness in full swing in the House, these transportation funds are in dire jeopardy of ever having any kind of permanence.

According to the report, these employees earn a total annual payroll of $18.6 billion and contribute an estimated $1.6 billion in state and federal payroll tax revenue. ARTBA/TDF says this employment includes the equivalent of 176,645 full-time jobs directly involved in transportation construction and related activities, and 177,945 that are sustained by transportation design and construction industry employee and company spending throughout the state's economy.

To back up its conclusions, the report says that according to the Federal Highway Administration, California has 172,511 miles of roadway. Of the state’s 54,944 miles of roadway eligible for federal aid, 39.2% are rated “not acceptable” and need major repairs or replacement. This compares to 39.3% of roads in 2007. California also has 24,463 bridges. FHWA reports 29.1% of the state’s bridges are either “structurally deficient” (3,228 bridges) or “functionally obsolete” (3,888 bridges). It will cost an estimated $7.5 billion to make needed bridge repairs on 5,586 structures in the state. (For more on the sorry shape of the state’s bridges, check out my story on another report, this one by the Transportation for America coalition.)

The last highway and transit law expired in October 2009. Federal aid to the states has been sustained ever since through a series of short-term extensions. ARTBA/TDF says the uncertainty of future funding levels is causing state transportation departments to slow down or delay projects, and in turn, impacting hiring decisions and equipment purchases by transportation design and construction firms.

According to the association, the report relied on the “Regional Input/Output Modeling System” (RIMS II) developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce to “track the complex money flows and interactions that occur between the nation’s diverse business sectors,” along with the U.S. Census Bureau’s “County Business Patterns” report and other public and private sources. The research was conducted by a team led by Alison Premo Black, vice president of policy and senior economist for ARTBA in Washington, D.C.

For more data on other states’ jobs situation, go to ARTBA’s new website –