Inflation causing prices to soar for pending infrastructure projects
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Wilmington City Councilman Luke Waddell traveled to Washington D.C. to testify before Congressional committee members focused on transportation and infrastructure issues.
Waddell’s role: helping members of Congress understand how inflation impacts cities across the country trying to complete planned infrastructure improvement projects, when the costs for many of those projects are far exceeding the expected price tag.
In the City of Wilmington alone, the cost of many pending projects has more than doubled. For example:
- nCino Sports Complex: 114% over budget
- Holly Tree Pedestrian Improvements: 254% over budget
- Racine Drive Intersection Improvements: 126% over budget
- Riverwalk Visitor Information Center Repairs: 113% over budget
- North Front Street Improvements: 105% over budget
“We have funds in reserve that we keep for this, really this very reason. So many projects are moving forward. If something comes in far, far over the budgeted amount, then then I think we kind of look at it and maybe decide to wait or rebid it and see see who we can get to come to the table at a later date,” Councilman Waddell told WECT of how they are handling projects that are coming in over budget. “I think [these projects will still] happen, they just may not happen as fast as we want them to.”
In some cases, when only one contractor has bid on a project, the city can put the project back out for bid in hopes of finding a more competitive offer. The alternative is postponing the project in hopes that the cost will come down in the future.
A number of factors have contributed to the cost increases, including a spike in the price of materials (driven in part by the surge in fuel costs to transport materials to market), the cost of labor, and the availability of workers that are available to perform the work. Waddell noted that it takes about 20% longer on average to fill an infrastructure-related job than it does to fill job openings in other fields.
Congressman David Rouzer of Wilmington was part of Thursday’s roundtable discussion for Transportation and Infrastructure Committee republicans, who were meeting with industry stakeholders to discuss inflation’s impact on infrastructure.
“Today’s roundtable gave a stark portrayal of inflation’s impact on infrastructure projects across the country and demonstrates the immediate need to do something about it. I thank Councilman Waddell for participating and for highlighting the challenges the City of Wilmington faces due to rising inflation. Unfortunately, families and communities across NC-07 and America are being hit hard by the same inflationary pressures further delaying or scaling back critical projects. Congress must put the brakes on runaway federal spending and enact policies that incentivize work, investment, and production,” Rouzer said.
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