Each month when the Wisconsin Department of Transportation releases its list of statewide highway projects scheduled to bid the following month, I like to see if any of those “construction obstruction” projects will affect where I live, work and play.
Since last April, it also has me thinking about the economy.
For as long as I’ve worked here, the WisDOT bid openings (lettings) were always held once a month, no more and no less. They were held like clockwork on the second Tuesday of every month, with a break in October.
Then, in 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act happened. With this federal money, four extra highway lettings, which the state calls “Special Economic Recovery Lettings” (SERLs), were added to the mix: one each in April, May, June and July. The same thing is happening this year: January, February, March and April, so far.
These extra lettings are keeping me very busy on the construction data reporting end of things, but are they also leading to more work for contractors?
It seems to me that eight extra highway lettings in two years for statewide road work must have a positive effect on employment somewhere down the line. The Feb. 23 and March 23 SERLs alone total just under 100 projects.
I’m sure someone out there has more scientific data on the matter than I do. I know that I fully expect to run into more “construction obstruction” as I travel from here to there.
Ann Knoedler is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. Her GPS doesn’t have a “construction obstruction avoidance” button.