Georgia DOT has its Work Cut Out

As mentioned previously, I’ve been doing some research into the portion of the Transportation Stimulus that will end up in Georgia. I’ve come up with some numbers that leads me to believe that the Georgia Department of Transportation contract office is going to be a madhouse in a few months.

ENORMOUS CAVEAT! All numbers here are WAGs1 at best and downright assumptions at worst.

Here’s what I’ve got. According to GDOT, here’s the preliminary list of projects that might be included in the stimulus. That list and some assumptions about what might be ready lead to these conclusions:

  1. $1 billion in stimulus funds for Georgia Transportation
  2. $500 million to be spent by July 8, 2009 (120 day shovel-ready provision)
  3. 75 projects on the books that would probably be ready and that meet the $500 million dollar goal which leads to…
  4. 1.3 Contracts per business day in order to meet the deadline
  5. Some really busy letting months of May and June

With respect to item number five, it seems likely that if the goal of 75 projects let by July 8 is to happen, the majority of the bidding will occur toward the late part of the 120 day period. That means the months of May and June. I honestly have no idea if the administrative, contract and engineering staffs of GDOT and the other agencies involved are capable of this sort of output. I hope so, because I’d hate to leave some of the money on the table.

Things that would help:

  • Fewer contracts – with only a few exceptions, the projects on that list linked above are “small” i.e. less than $10 million. A few more large contracts in the $25-$75 million range would even things out nicely. Unfortunately, those would be difficult to drum up in the 120 days.
  • Combined contracts – I haven’t examined the list in detail, but having contractors bid on bunches of projects at the same time would reduce the workload
  • Longer timeframe – a change to the law that would allow for a longer time-to-project than the 120 days. I’m rating that as “unlikely”
  • Cooperative agencies – a great deal of the delay in reaching the letting stage of a project contract occurs during agency reviews. If these review periods were shrunk, more projects could be ready in time.

I’ll be discussing some of this in my podcast due out on Monday morning but remember, I’m only working with my own research and what I read in the papers. For all I know, there’s already a plan that is set and rolling.

1: “WAG”: Technical term standing for Wild-Ass Guess. Usually used in the context of “this is better than a guess, worse than having real data, and based on experience”.

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