Secrets of the Job Hunt


Monday, September 08, 2008

Florida Jobs with DOT in Trouble

According to Florida Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, major federal highway funding is expected to run out by the end of this month. If something doesn’t change in the immediate future, this could mean problems for the highways and the loss of many Florida jobs. Peters says that the shortage of funds can be blamed on the fact that American's are driving less due to the high cost of gas.

At this time, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that will have to cut the highway program by around 34 percent this fiscal year. This would amount to the loss of $573 million for the state and as many as 20,000 Florida jobs.

Add to this the fact that building and improvement costs have skyrocketed. Recent figures from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials show that, in the last five years, the cost of concrete has rise 36 percent. Asphalt is up by 70 percent, steel has risen by 105 percent, and the diesel needed to fuel equipment is now 300 percent more expensive.

"It means that many projects in the pipeline are going to be stopped," said Aashto director of Engineering Tony Kane. "It means that states are going to be telling construction contractors 'Forget it, there's no jobs this year.'"

According to Homan, the DOT has not yet made any decisions on who and what will be cut from the budget. At this time, it seems likely that Orange County will see the loss of jobs.

“If the I-4 ultimate build-out were to be funded, it would certainly include federal funds," said Homan. "The same is true for SR 528 widening. Neither is currently funded for construction, and 528 is not even funded for design."

Secretary Peters is currently pushing a measure through congress in hopes of adding $8 billion dollars to the fund, which could help to protect many Florida jobs. As of now, the measure has passed in the House.

Kane believes that, even if the government does okay the money, more permanent solutions needed to be investigated. "It's a real bandaid. It's a short term fix," he said. "It's going to get us through this fiscal year but next fiscal year its going to be the same thing."

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