According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), state and federal transportation officials are expediting highway projects that can put thousands of workers back to work. "The urgency of implementing this recovery package is too great to waste time," said Executive Director John Horsley. "An AASHTO task force has been working with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to identify every conceivable method for getting these projects out to the field."
Both AASHTO and the FHWA launched websites to share acceleration techniques. Ideas proposed by FHWA for expediting projects include using consultant services for contract management, using design-build methods, "setting up contracts that provide the kind of management services essential to moving a collection of projects—including financial management, procurement following federal procedures, scheduling, cost control, design and construction management, and performance management reporting"—and "use of operational strategies to mitigate the traffic impacts of the expanded program, and inclusion of [intelligent transportation systems] or other operational elements in larger infrastructure-oriented projects."
Horsley identified the following activities that states are pursuing to prepare for the influx of federal funding:
Reduced advertising and award timeframes—States have been meeting with the contracting and consultant industry to inform them of the potential impact of the Economic Recovery Act and what will be expected of them, including the potential for reduced advertising periods and award timeframes for projects.
Transportation planning—Many states have begun work with Metropolitan Planning Organizations to make necessary amendments to plans, Transportation Improvement Plans, and State Transportation Improvement Plans.
Rehabilitation projects—In many areas, states are focusing on rehabilitation projects that can be developed quickly. Designs are being kept simple and straight-forward to ensure speedy delivery.
Regional bridge repair contracts—Some states are considering regional bridge repair contracts with quantities and listing of repairs needed for each location. These are lump-sum contracts intended to address significant bridge needs.
In a Jan. 23, 2009 press release, AASHTO asserted that a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the speed of spending transportation dollars as part of the economic recovery bill is based on "business as usual" and underestimates the ability of the states to deliver ready-to-go projects. In that analysis, the CBO estimated that only a small portion of the money could be spent within the next year.
"CBO is basing its analysis on past practices for six-year bills, and then projecting more delay that it imagines will take place," Horsely said. "This is a new day, a new challenge, and states will deliver on the promise they have made to Congress and to President Obama. We are ready to move. All we need is the green light to proceed."