Traffic congestion affecting construction companies

Jennifer Gonzalez//June 23, 2010

Traffic congestion affecting construction companies

Jennifer Gonzalez//June 23, 2010

Traffic congestion and the delays it causes are costing the nation’s construction firms billions of dollars every year. According to recent data from the Associated General Contractors of America, that figure runs as high as $23 billion.

“Traffic tie-ups nationwide are sapping productivity, delaying construction projects, and raising costs for construction firms of all types,” said Stephen Sandherr, the AGC’s CEO.

Sandherr said the analysis was based on responses from nearly 1,200 construction firms the association surveyed in April and May. Ninety-three percent of firms reported that traffic and congestion were affecting their operations. In Idaho, delays are also prevalent, especially along I-84.

“In the last 10 years, congestion has caused a lot of time and delay,” said Robert Von Lintig, manager of the Nampa division of Idaho Sand and Gravel. “We often try to schedule trucks to miss rush hour traffic, but that is not always possible. It’s not unusual to have four to five trucks heading to one job tied up in a traffic back up.”

While some states with larger populations and more infrastructure may suffer from higher rates of congestion, those places generally have more alternate routes for commuters to utilize.

“There are three major north to south interstates within seven to 10 miles of each other between New Jersey and Philadelphia,” Von Lintig said. “If there is an accident, you can find another route. However, if there is an accident on the interstate here, everyone tries to jump on Franklin.”

“The problem is out there,” said Dave Garrison, the division manager for Portland, Ore., road construction firm Porter W. Yett Co. “But the problem only arises on certain projects, and is accounted for in the company’s bids.”

Garrison’s view might be a pretty optimistic one. The AGC’s study also found that traffic tie-ups delay the average project by at least one day, while one in three firms reported traffic adding a minimum of three days to the length of the average project.

For now, the construction industry is unlikely to get any relief from traffic until Congress acts on long-delayed legislation. That legislation would set national surface transportation policy and funding levels over the next six years.

“In today’s political environment where voters are worried about jobs and the deficit,” Sandherr said, “passing legislation that creates construction jobs, boosts our economy, and doesn’t add one cent to the deficit ought to be a no-brainer.”