Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Limehouse: State DOT contracts costing less than estimated
Published Nov. 24, 2008
An otherwise grim economic landscape has had at least one bright spot for taxpayers: State highway officials are getting more bang for the buck on road and bridge improvements.
Buck Limehouse Jr
“This will allow us to move further down our priority list of projects for critical needs across the state.”
H.B. "Buck" Limehouse Jr., S.C. Transportation secretary
The state Department of Transportation’s highway and bridge construction contracts awarded from August through October have come in at $15 million less than estimated.
Transportation Secretary H.B. “Buck” Limehouse Jr. attributed the savings to economic and market conditions that have increased competition among contractors.
The DOT’s experience mirrors the slump in the construction industry. On Friday, the state Employment Security Commission reported that the jobless rate had soared to 8% in October, the highest rate in 25 years. The job shrinkage was led by the construction sector, which has shed 18,600 jobs in the past year.
The recent drop in fuel prices has reduced costs for contractors and also contributed to the lower bids, Limehouse said.
In August, 34 projects were estimated at $61 million. Bids from contractors for all 34 projects were $54 million, $7 million less than the estimate.
In September, 25 projects as a whole were estimated at $42 million. Bids from contractors were $42 million.
In October, 34 projects that as a whole were estimated at $69 million. Bids from contractors for all 34 projects were $61 million, $8 million less than anticipated cost.
“This will allow us to move further down our priority list of projects for critical needs across the state, such as highway resurfacing or bridge projects,” Limehouse said. “Any money saved will go directly toward our state’s transportation system.”
Limehouse said transportation revenue, which comes primarily from gasoline user fees, is down 5% for the fiscal year beginning July 1 when compared with last year. Revenue in September was down 8% compared with the same month in 2007.
Limehouse said DOT administrative cost savings of $18.7 million will be used to maintain highways and bridges.