By Dr. Alison Premo Black, chief economist, ARTBA
States and local governments awarded $10.8 billion in transportation contracts in June, up from $7 billion in June 2019. Over the last five years, June contract awards have averaged $7.8 billion.
Although some states have announced project delays, overall work continues to get in the construction pipeline. June is the last month of the fiscal year for many states. ARTBA began collecting monthly data in 1997.
Rail and transit work in Washington state, plus port and waterway contracts in Hawaii and Georgia, helped boost total awards in June. The value of awards was up in 35 states compared to June 2019 and was also up across all modes.
Other states with the largest monthly gains compared to last year include Alaska, Illinois, Utah, Massachusetts, Idaho, New Jersey, and Florida.
The monthly value of awards can fluctuate significantly based on state programs and projects. The latest month of data supports earlier evidence that despite the broader economic slowdown, most states and local governments have continued to put out projects for bid.
Comparing the four-month period March to June this year and last, the value of awards is up for airport runways ($793 million versus $723 million); bridges ($6.5 billion versus $5.4 billion); highways and streets ($23 billion from $21.5 billion); and waterways ($1 billion from $586 million). The value of transit and rail awards is down from $2.7 billion between March and June of 2019 to $2.1 billion this year.
Looking forward, some state and local governments have expressed concerns over declining transportation revenues. How this challenge will impact capital spending remains to be determined.
As of July 21, at least 15 states and 16 local governments or transportation authorities have announced over $9.5 billion in transportation project delays or cancellations. This ranges from postponing major transit projects (Hawaii) to decreasing local aid or cutting state-funded projects (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia). The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet did not hold bid lettings in May and June as a result of declining revenues. Wyoming has delayed 11 projects.
Detailed data by state and mode, as well as the latest COVID-19 revenue impact report, are available as part of ARTBA’s Transportation Construction Market Intelligence Service.