Push for Highway Funds
(Las Vegas, NV)- Some major highway projects slated for Nevada, including here in Las Vegas could be in jeopardy.
A recent study by national transportation research group TRIP lists 25 major Nevada projects that need to be fulfilled in order to create and sustain economic growth. Some of the top projects include continued expansion of portions of the I-15 and the construction of I-11, a new highway corridor from Phoenix to Las Vegas.
However, while the plans are big, the funds are small.
According to TRIP’s executive director Will Wilkins, federal transportation dollars are dwindling and could delay or put these projects on hold.
“Nevada’s transportation system is the backbone of the state’s economy. Unless Congress acts this year to adequately fund the Federal Highway Trust Fund, Nevada is going to see its federal funding decrease dramatically starting this summer, ” explain Wilkins. “As a result, these critically needed transportation projects may remain stranded on the drawing board.”
This looming lack of funding directly affects construction jobs. According to a 2007 analysis by the Federal Highway Administration, every $1 billion invested in highway construction supports approximately 27, 800 jobs. For Guy Martin, vice president of locally-based Martin-Harris Construction and president of the Associated General Contractors of Las Vegas, the unstable construction industry in Las Vegas needs to be fixed.
“In 2005, we had 106,000 construction jobs and in 2013, that number sank to below 36,000 construction jobs. The construction industry is so fragile in Las Vegas right now that if Congress fails to address this shortfall, those employment figures will only get worse, ” expressed Martin.
He is now one of many construction leaders standing behind the “Hardhats for Highways” campaign. Construction workers involved will wear stickers on their hardhats showing the number of workers who rely on federal highway funding. The sticker will also have a second number showing the number of family members a lack of funding would directly affect. These same workers will be able to send “e-Hardhat” messages to Congress expressing their concerns.
Martin says their message is clear:
“Investing in roads and bridges not only makes for a broader economy, but it makes it more efficient and vibrant and puts a lot of men and woman back to work right here in Nevada.”