Stimulus funds provide a lifeline for building contractors

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Print this page Paula C. Squires

Contractors: start your bidding. Just in time for the spring construction season, a wave of projects related to the state’s highways and bridges are now open for bids, thanks to millions in federal stimulus funds. 

Virginia expects to spend $66 million to repair more than 100 bridges, and $110 million to restore 436 miles of pavement. One of the major projects on the to-do list:  $18.3 million for paving and an upgrade to the guardrail on mountainous Interstate 81 in Botetourt County.  That translates into 59,577 tons of new asphalt, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.  More importantly, the work will prevent some contractors from mothballing their businesses, says Brian Turmail, a spokesman for The Associated General Contractors of America. “For a lot of our members, the stimulus means the difference between staying in business and going out of business this year.”

Since March 2006, business has been so slow that Virginia has seen a 10 percent drop in construction employment, or a loss of 25,800 jobs, says Turmail.  AGC studies show that for every 1 billion invested in construction in the state, 20,000 new jobs are created and 10,000 of them are in construction-related industries.  Overall, the investment brings $2.3 billion in new economic activity, notes Turmail, because of the multiplier affect, which includes everything from a bump in building supply sales to business for banks that manage construction accounts.

The Arlington-based trade association is also mindful of the help that heavily-congested Northern Virginia will get from the stimulus funds.  About nine percent, or $10.3 million of the state’s repaving money, is earmarked for the area with 69 lane miles of pavement in Loudoun and Prince William Counties scheduled for repair.  The area also stands to benefit from federal transit stimulus restoration funds. More than $200 million will go to the Washington Metropolitan Transit Administration and $9.3 million to Virginia Railway Express,  a popular commuter train that provides service from Fredericksburg into the nation’s capital. For more information on the projects open for bids, go to

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