I work in the transportation industry designing roads in Texas. As a whole, my industry is not doing so well currently. TxDOT is the main client for consultants who do transportation engineering and they have recently slowed down all work in the state.
TxDOT’s fiscal year is from September to September. This past September they published their budget and it looked to be a good year for the whole industry. Then in November, nearly 60 days after publishing their reports, they published reports that they were essentially out of money and to make up for the lack of funds, they would cut the consultant budget by 60%. They began canceling projects that were under contract and forcing others to end early. TxDOT indicated this would be the standard for two years. This has hit many consultant firms hard, causing lay-offs and hiring freezes for an industry that had been doing well for nearly 4 years.
There are many who are skeptical of TxDOT’s claims (http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/traffic/entries/2008/02/04/dewhurst_has_doubts_about_txdo.html) primarily due to the gas tax. For those who are unaware, 40 cents of every gallon of gas goes to taxes, half to the federal government and half to the state government for the purpose of building roads. “Where is this money going?” is the primary question everyone is asking and the question is valid. In 1999, according to reports, Texas alone generated 1.2 billion towards the gas tax.
TxDOT and Gov. Perry now claim that revenue from the gas tax is slowing (March, 12, 2008) and claims that a large portion of this revenue is used for agencies other than TxDOT. They are also pointing the blame at the federal government not granting sufficient funds. Maybe the most encouraging part of the article is that the State Auditor is looking into TxDOT’s finances. Which is good because in the article they admit to double-counting 1.1 billion dollars, which I’m sure we all have done at some point or another.
The slowdown has caused much nervousness for people like me, with families and a house, who depend on projects from TxDOT primarily. The slowdown has caused TxDOT to give some of its work to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) and they recently received RFQs (proposals) for a US 290E toll road job and my company was awarded a portion of the project. This is very good news.
I’ll keep you updated on the affairs of the largest state agency in Texas, my former employer, TxDOT.
http://www.acppubs.com/blog/1230000523/post/430023643.html (1.1 billion screwup)