New Jobs, Better Roads from Stimulus Plan
By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY-- New jobs and better roads are coming to Oklahoma, paid for by the federal stimulus plan.
Tuesday was the final day for contractors to submit bids in one of the largest letting projects in ODOT's history. It took place over two weeks, which is about as long as it will take for some of these repairs to get underway.
A small group of contractors trickled into ODOT hoping to get a portion of the stimulus funded bridge and road repair projects.
"With the stimulus money, it's exciting. It's going to be a lot of work happening in Oklahoma and we're exciting to be a part of it," Damon Markwell with Markwell Paving Company said.
And there's plenty of work to go around, $380 million worth, all up for grabs all over the state.
"We're weeks away from people going out and putting on brand new boots and starting their new careers in road and bridge building," Assn. of General Contractors Bobby Stem said.
Some of those workers are likely to come from the housing industry, where construction has slowed down because of the recession.
"We had almost 40 bidders that were fighting for about 15 different jobs," Stem said.
Bids ranged from about $500,000 to $28 million. ODOT spent all day crunching the numbers.
"The bids came in about 20 percent under what our projections were, so we're very pleased with the bids that we received," ODOT Director of Operations Gary Evans said.
The hard part is deciding who gets which projects. ODOT said some of the work is slated to start in just a few weeks. Markwell hopes he's among the lucky few.
"We're running about normal from what we were last year, so it's been fairly good here in Oklahoma. But we need more work so we can put more people to work," Markwell said.
Markwell said if he's hired by the state, his company would increase his workforce by about 10 percent.
Next Monday, ODOT has a commission meeting and that's when the first round of contracts will be approved.