“It's too early to tell if the public sector is specifying certain products over others,” she adds. “Some cities are stretching their recovery dollars by buying the most affordable products, and others are trying to invest those dollars in smarter spending, even if it means buying more expensive products.”
Whether it's because of the legislation's focus on sustainability or contractors working harder to incorporate sustainable practices, pavement-preservation products are in greater demand.
“Agencies that never considered rejuvenators are perking up at the idea of extending out their lifecycle service by 5 to 7 years with rejuvenators before the use of wear course seals,” says Jim Brownridge, marketing manager for Tricor Refining, which makes Reclamite pavement rejuvenator. “Here in California, Caltrans is focusing on green projects and the use of cold-in-place recycling.”
Sustainable projects don't stop at pavement, though. The Cincinnati suburb of Mason, Ohio, expects to save more than $10,000 annually to irrigate a 35-acre sports park by installing 2,000 feet of pipeline through which treated effluent from the adjacent 5-mgd wastewater treatment plant will be pumped. “The stimulus funding has accelerated our pace,” says Art Oliver, project coordinator in the public utilities department. “This project would have been a year or two off, but now it'll be completed next year.”
He believes his project proves the legislation is working as intended. “Obviously, some of the money will be used to purchase materials that otherwise wouldn't have been purchased,” he says.
Not everyone sees it that way, though. Some criticize the Obama administration for doing little to help small manufacturers, while others are frustrated by the consequences of the legislation's tight deadlines.
“I've seen jobs getting rushed to bid. Drawings aren't fully complete and there are a lot of holes in the plan,” says Lee Disbury, vice president of Coral Steel & Supply in West Palm Beach, Fla., a fabricated reinforcing steel provider that largely supplies concrete infrastructure projects.
“Other projects have been in the works for some time, but they're small,” he explains. “Whatever does dribble into our local and regional economies, the true impact is minimal compared to the scale of the issues. There's only half of the work there used to be, and contractors are taking advantage of the situation by bidding really low just to get work.
“The governments writing those contracts are doing a disservice to the industry as a whole because they're awarding jobs to some people who are just plain unqualified.”
He blames the difficult-to-understand application and reporting requirements. “Part of the problem is that there's pressure to obtain and utilize this stimulus money, and governments are doing things they wouldn't normally do,” he says. “You wonder where some of the checks and balances went.”
Need to find a firm to complete one of your projects? To help you get started, the editors of PUBLIC WORKS have compiled a list of leading AEC firms that do work in the public sector. To qualify for the list, participating firms provided company data, revenue, project details, and areas of expertise in an exclusive survey. See page 26.