By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA

James Wolfe, District 6 Secretary with the Florida Department of Transportation, above, detailed the construction challenges his state is facing in an Oct. 29 keynote address at ARTBA’s Southern Regional Meeting and TransOvation® Workshop in Miami.

Consider these numbers:

  • Florida’s 21.3 million population continues to grow at roughly 3 percent annually, or on target to reach 26 million by 2030; and
  • The Sunshine State hosted 126 million tourists in 2018, or six visitors for every resident.

“Our mission is to provide mobility for people and goods,” Wolfe said, but “it’s really hard to keep up with” such daunting numbers.

Recruiting and retaining qualified agency staff and workers to keep up with rapidly-changing transportation innovation, technology and trends is another challenge.

“Forty percent of people at FDOT have five years or less” on the job, Wolfe said.

Recruiting state transportation officials and traffic engineers needs to start as early as middle school, he continued. “For FDOT, it’s vital for us to attract, retain and train. It’s our number one problem apart from congestion.”

Wolfe said he regards transportation construction companies and contractors as partners and advisers in meeting today’s challenges and tomorrow’s needs, based on the state’s three core principles: safety, mobility, and innovation.