Highway Contract Awards Keep Hitting Record Levels, ARTBA Reports

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ARTBA bar Chart showing first quarter state and local highway and bridge contract awards from 2019-2023
Highway contract awards continue to climb to new highs in the first quarter, ARTBA reports.

Contract awards for highway projects in the U.S. continue to climb above historical levels for the first quarter of 2023, reports the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

Highway contract awards are up 12%, to $19 billion, over 1Q 2022’s $17 billion, according to ARTBA.

That increase comes after last year’s record annual awards for highway and bridge contracts, which were up 25% from the previous year, thanks to the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law that took effect in 2021, with funding starting to come available in March 2022.

Though highway contracts are up for the first quarter of 2023, bridge contract awards are down $1.6 billion from 1Q 2022 to $5.7 billion. But ARTBA notes that awards for both highway and bridge contracts are up 42% over average levels in the three years before the infrastructure law took effect.

“Contract awards are a leading indicator of future construction activity,” ARTBA says. “…The first quarter is usually a slower season for construction, so data from the period can be a volatile predictor of full calendar-year activity.”

$300 million more coming for bridges

More funding from the infrastructure law continues to pour out of Washington.

The Biden-Harris administration recently announced about $300 million in grants split among nine medium-sized bridge projects around the U.S. The projects have eligible costs of up to $100 million.

Projects receiving the Bridge Investment Program grants from the Federal Highway Administration are as follows:

City of San Diego, Palm Avenue/Interstate 805 Bridge; $24 million – Bridge rehabilitation and preservation for the 50-year-old Palm Avenue overcrossing bridge in San Diego.

Michigan Department of Transportation, Lafayette Bascule Bridge; $73 million – Replacement of the 85-year-old, bascule-style Lafayette Avenue Bridge over the Saginaw River with a new bascule bridge.

New York State Thruway Authority, Castleton-on-Hudson Bridge; $21 million – Rehabilitation of the Berkshire Spur of the New York Thruway, which connects I-87 in Albany County to the New York-Massachusetts state line.

Improving rural bridges in Northwest Oklahoma; $11.5 million – Replacement of seven bridges.

Portland Bureau of Transportation, Oregon, Burgard Bridge; $13.9 million – Replacement of the 93-year-old viaduct over the Union Pacific Railroad in the St. Johns neighborhood.

Improving South Carolina rural bridges; $51.2 million – Replacement of six bridges that range from 68 to 101 years old.

Texas Department of Transportation, US-59 San Antonio River Bridge; $14 million – Replacement of the U.S. Highway 59 bridge over the San Antonio River.

District Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge; $72 million – Rehabilitation of the northbound I-395 bridge.

City of Madison, Wisconsin, John Nolen Drive Bridges; $15.1 million – Replacement of six off-system bridges along the John Nolen Drive Causeway, which is a major artery that travels across Lake Monona and into downtown Madison.

$1 billion for road safety

Cities, towns, counties, Tribal governments and metropolitan planning organizations can now apply directly for a total of $1.177 billion to fund local projects that improve roadway safety, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

Funding can be targeted toward known high-crash areas and can include projects ranging from sidewalk improvements to reconfiguring intersections. 

Applications for the Safe Streets and Roads for All grants may come from individual communities or groups of communities. Applications are due no later than July 10 at 5 p.m. Eastern. The Notice of Funding Opportunity can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/grants/SS4A.