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Transit, road contractors expect less business in 2010, coalition poll shows


About 80 percent of road and transit contractors expect a construction market decline next year despite the effects of stimulus dollars because the multi-year transportation reauthorization bill remains stalled in Congress, according to a survey recently conducted by the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC).

Nearly 70 percent of the 527 respondents said they received stimulus-funded contracts this year. However, 63 percent said they laid off employees in 2009 because of adverse business conditions and 44 percent expected to lay off additional workers.

The requirement that stimulus-funded projects be “shovel ready” discouraged large-scale and longer-duration projects that can help sustain contractors’ long-term personnel and equipment needs, according to the TCC. Less than 20 percent of the respondents said they planned to purchase new construction equipment or trucks next year and only 5 percent anticipated hiring new, non-seasonal personnel.

The survey results “underscore the need for quick passage of a robust, six-year surface transportation legislation,” TCC officials said in a prepared statement.

Despite stimulus funding, 46 percent of the respondents expected a slight dip and 32 percent anticipated a severe drop in their state construction markets, and more than 76 percent expected state transportation departments to bid out less work in 2010 vs. 2009. In addition, only 17 percent will enter 2010 with a work backlog as large, by value, as they had entering 2009 — and one in five will enter next year with at least 50 percent less of a backlog, according to the coalition.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/16/2009