It was only two months ago that a new federal transportation
bill was signed into law authorizing $244 billion dollars for highway and other
transportation projects over the next five years.
But a U.S. Department of Transportation press release says
dramatic increases in construction and maintenance costs have forced some cities
and states to cancel highway projects because of insufficient funds.
According to The Seattle Times, Seattle is one city
where the high price of building materials could stall some big projects.
Inflation in materials like concrete and steel have helped add nearly a half
billion dollars to the original estimate for a new downtown viaduct, The
Times reported. In addition, inflation has added a full billion dollars to
a proposed tunnel that would be an alternative to the viaduct.
The DOT's Office of Inspector General plans to do an audit
to determine how much costs have gone up and why.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the American Association of
State Highway and Transportation Officials, which represents the various state
transportation departments and administrators, said the prices of concrete,
steel and asphalt have all increased sharply in recent years.
AASHTO's Jennifer Gavin told "Land Line Now" on XM Satellite
Radio that demand for re-building materials after Hurricane Katrina drove
prices up. Gavin also cited the building boom in China.
- By Reed Black,? staff writer