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Source : Unsplash
March 17, 2023
Author : Alex Bustillos
If you have noticed, you would have seen that in the last few years, there have been a lot of roadworks happening pan-America, in both rural and urban areas. But the same cannot be seen in the rail networks, and the latest testament to that lack of updation can be seen in the ghoulish train accident in Ohio.
As per the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) data, the spending on roadway contracts was 29 times more than spending on rail and transit contracts in 2022. As per the analysis, the Bipartisan Infrastructure funds dramatically impacted the rise of highway, road, and bridge project contracts during 2021 and 2022. However, the rail and transit project contracts have slowed down significantly since the beginning days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to ARTBA Chief Economist Alison Premo Black, the monetary value of contract awards for all transportation projects increased by 25?tween 2021 and 2022, with the number of contracts increasing by 12.4% to 39,500. In terms of overall value and quantity of projects, highway, pavement, bridge, and tunnel projects substantially surpass rail and transit projects in 2022.
The overall value of the 38,220 contracts for roadway-related work was $102.2 billion.
Meanwhile, 180 rail and transit contracts have been valued at $3.5 billion. These numbers indicate a considerable decrease from 2019 when $11 billion in rail and transit contracts were awarded.
The total annual grants increased by 24% to $79.8 billion for highways and 26% to $22.4 billion for bridges, totaling $111.2 billion. The average annual growth rate of highway and bridge awards combinedly was 3% in the previous four years.
Black stated in an interview that the fact that funding from federal investment is beginning to enter the project pipeline is "a very positive indication."
Mass transit receives the vast majority of rail and transit contracts. She said the work has continued to be ongoing, but over the last few years, that pipeline has really dropped significantly, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a separate ARTBA review of how infrastructure law highway and bridge funding were spent through September 30, 2022, 46% went to road repair or reconstruction, while only 1% went to bike and pedestrian facilities.
Many states are looking to increase their transportation infrastructure spending. State legislatures have already submitted more than 150 proposals to enhance the transportation budget in 2023, according to ARTBA's Transportation Investment Advocacy Center. Alaska, Michigan, Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin governors have recommended higher transportation funding in their upcoming fiscal year budgets.
Massachusetts governor Maura Healey proposed new transportation projects on Wednesday, including the intercity passenger rail service from Boston to Springfield and Pittsfield.
Black believes that infrastructure development has a bright future. She expressed her excitement for more projects to be launched and to see some of them officially start to be finished.
Contracting firms are also seeing more projects coming their way, and they attribute this to the IIJA funding. “We’ve assumed that we’re going to see a ramp-up as we approach the end of ’23 and going into ’24, with a likely peak around the ’26 time frame,” explained Carey Smith, chairwoman, president, and CEO of Parsons Corp.