Stimulus-Funded Road and Transit Projects Saving & Adding Jobs for Hard Hit Construction Workers

Local transportation projects in Palm Bay, FL and other areas show how the Stimulus is helping to employ men and women, but more must be done to help workers suffering high unemployment, low demand

PALM BAY, FL - A $20.5 million stimulus-funded project to widen I-95 in Palm Bay, FL, is helping Ranger Construction expand its payroll and retain dozens of employees facing layoffs, the Associated General Contractors of America announced. The association added that the Florida firm's experiences, along with those of contractors across the country, underscore the economic benefits of investing in infrastructure and construction projects.

"For the dozens of men and women who will be working on this project, the stimulus means a good job, warm food and a comfortable home," Bob Schafer, president of the Associated General Contractors' Florida East Coast Chapter and vice president of Ranger Construction, said today. "As far as this project is concerned, the stimulus is working as intended."

Schafer said the stimulus-funded project couldn't have come at a better time, noting that nationwide over a million construction workers are unemployed, with over 75,000 from Florida. He added that in the Palm Bay and Melbourne area alone, over 1,600 construction workers have lost their jobs this year. "While the country has been weathering a severe economic recession, the construction industry is suffering nothing less than a full depression," Schafer added.

He said that the project was helping his West Palm Beach-based company retain more than 20 employees it was planning to let go. Schafer added that the company has already begun to hire what will ultimately be a half-dozen new employees because of the stimulus-funded contract.

The association added that contractors around the country like Ranger are saving or adding thousands of jobs thanks to the stimulus. Spokane, WA-based Wesslen Construction has employed over 40 people on a local stimulus-funded project, while Williamsburg, VA-based Branscome Inc. saved up to 40 jobs thanks to a stimulus-funded highway project.

In California, San Francisco's Yerba Buena Engineering and Construction will employ up to 50 people on a stimulus-funded irrigation project and in Hawaii, Kiewit Pacific has begun a stimulus-funded transit project that will ultimately employ over 4,200 people to complete.

The association made the announcement during Ranger's presentation to the media of its construction plans for the 13-month long highway widening project. Helpful as the stimulus is, it isn't enough to turn around the trillion dollar construction industry.

The group urged Congress and the Administration to act on the measures in its construction industry recovery plan, "Build Now for the Future," designed to jump-start private construction activity. And it noted that Congress needs to act quickly to pass a six-year surface transportation bill that provides needed increases in highway and transit investments.

"In a global economy, where the difference between success and failure is often measured in seconds, we need to decide now: do we want to lead the way when the world's economies again heat up, or be left behind stuck in traffic?" Schafer asked.