At the beginning of the year, when President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, he unleashed a relative flood of funding for “shovel-ready” transportation construction projects. Perhaps the expectations were unrealistic that this flood would wipe clean the nation’s economic and job woes. Either way, the economic stimulus package is currently facing criticism for the slow pace of project starts, and for the continuing loss of jobs across the nation.
While those points, and others, can certainly be debated, one thing cannot: This infusion of spending represents a significant boon to an industry that was, and still is, facing a funding situation that can be best described as “uncertain.”
With the Highway Trust Fund again facing near-term insolvency, no clear fix is in sight. Proposed one-time “fixes” range from $3 billion to nearly $27 billion in scope, all for a few months of extended solvency. Long-term, industry experts agree that the only possibility for rectifying the funding situation is a reauthorization of the federal transportation bill. And, as always, that remains a trick. Industry associations such as the American Road & Transportation Builders Association and Associated General Contractors of America were fighting against the Obama administration’s effort to push off reauthorization of a new transportation bill until 2010.
To some—especially those contractors that are working in other worthwhile sectors that are currently going begging for work—it may seem ironic that these contractors are worried about funding when their industry is receiving the lion’s share of construction stimulus dollars.
Still, as we'll report in a story for our September issue, “Stimulus Funding Arrives Just in Time for Georgia Road Builders,” it’s probably not a stretch to say that a significant percentage of these firms would be going out of business without the stimulus.
David Spear, press secretary with the Georgia Dept. of Transportation, put it this way: “Because of our own budget shortfall, we are awarding hardly any projects other than stimulus.” And as we reported earlier this year, in North Carolina, the situation was equally dire, with the volume of road lettings having fallen to just one quarter of 2008’s pace. In South Carolina, where road funding has been lacking for years, the stimulus has had an upbeat effect as well.
That’s the current situation as Southeast Construction prepares to publish its annual ranking of highway contractors in the four-state region. It is based entirely upon information provided by these companies through an online survey system. Only firms that responded to the survey are included in the ranking. An abbreviated version of this list, which publishes in print in September, is included here. (To be listed in next year’s ranking, contact Richard Mui at email@example.com.)
1. The Hubbard Group $466,942,337
2. The Lane Construction Corp. $463,281,689
3. Archer Western Contractors $404,484,185
4. Barnhill Contracting Co. $328,960,000
5. OHL USA, Inc $312,849,000
6. Kiewit Corp. $273,219,240
7. Odebrecht Construction, Inc. $212,886,000
8. PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. $165,403,823
9. Blythe Development Co. $156,412,658
10. Superior Construction Co. $145,000,000
11. Flatiron $140,894,978
12. Skanska $128,549,863
13. Granite Construction, Inc. $82,513,534
14. P & S Paving, Inc. $77,500,000
15. The Middlesex Corp. $70,693,156
16. H & J Contracting, Inc. $68,422,000
17. Scott Bridge Co. $54,565,000
18. MCM $54,434,000
19. Taylor & Murphy Construction Co. $48,220,480
20. Westwind Contracting, Inc. $21,000,000
21. Lee Construction Co. of Carolinas $18,266,412
22. R. E. Burns & Sons Co., Inc. $13,500,000
23. Turtle Southeast, Inc. $11,200,000
24. Mainline Contracting, Inc. $8,500,000
25. CSR Heavy Construction, Inc. $5,000,000