What else in addition to infrastructure investments can government do to stimulate the economy particularly the struggling construction sector? Justifiably so government entities at all levels are asking that question. AGC had the opportunity to share some ideas with the City of Seattle and what follows is AGC’s suggested 10-point program for construction industry job recovery:
1. Ensure timely implementation of the Bored Tunnel seawall replacement Sound Transit 2 programs the SR 520 and Mercer corridor projects. Plus seek to accelerate construction of other critical infrastructure projects. City capital projects (from all departments) expected to go to bid the remainder of this year and next year should be re-estimated for potential cost savings. In the current bid environment where projects are coming in 10 to 20 percent under the engineers estimate the City may be able to identify sufficient savings to advance additional projects.
2. Contract out some of the road maintenance and repair work typically performed in-house. With a reduced City work force and furloughs this may provide a way to maintain adequate levels of service.
3. If not already underway and subject to Federal Funding participation embark upon energy efficiency upgrades for City-owned buildings.
4. Partner with AGC to work with the state legislature to develop financing mechanisms to support essential City infrastructure investments for both transportation and other public facilities.
5. Promote common sense incentives tax credits and policy changes designed to stimulate new private- and public-sector demand.
6. Eliminate discriminatory project labor agreements (PLAs) that favor one segment of the labor force over another. We need to ensure that all workers have the opportunity to participate in the recovery.
7. Establish a single point-of-contact among departments within the City for expediting major projects (similar to what was done for the tunnel retrofit project). Improving coordination among Departments for processing permits will reduce permitting time and save on overall project costs. This could include a one-stop permit process for these projects similar to what King County and the State have established for some environmental permits.
8. Eliminate the practice of adding additional costs and fees to permits and other services to augment Department budgets in this down economy. This appears to be happening to private developers contractors and other public agencies.
9. Timely removal or installation of utilities particularly those for which Seattle City Light is responsible. This is a major issue for contractors.
10. As part of the City’s initiative to develop a better prepared workforce partner with the AGC Education Foundation to establish construction math curriculums in various high schools based on the pilot project completed in Bellingham.