Not much stimulus from highway spending
In February, when Congress approved President Obama's mammoth plan to stimulate the economy, transportation projects were supposed to be among the fastest-acting pieces of the $787-billion package.
All 50 states moved quickly to qualify for their share of the money. But since then the pace has slowed considerably, particularly in California and Florida, where the effect of the economic crisis has been especially severe.
As of July 10, more than 3,600 of the 5,600 road projects approved by Washington -- including six of the 10 largest approved projects -- had not been given the green light to start construction.
"What we're seeing is a significant level of bidding activity," said Anne Lloyd, chief financial officer at Martin Marietta Materials, a nationwide supplier of stone, asphalt and other construction supplies. "But the big thing we're not seeing is work on the ground."
The reasons are many. One is the time needed to get heavy equipment and crews ready for jobs. Also, overburdened state officials have sometimes had trouble sustaining the early momentum.
Even where projects have begun, they haven't always brought with them as big a burst of hiring as might be expected. . . . .