Labor Shortages Increasing Cost, Delaying San Angelo Area Road Projects
SAN ANGELO, TX — Some members of the San Angelo City Council expressed concern that local road construction contractor Reece Albert is gouging the City of San Angelo for road work Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the regular meeting of the San Angelo City Council.
The discussion was initiated by Councilman Harry Thomas. He noted that no matter what the project, Reece Albert is the only road construction contractor that bids on the job. And the bid price is always higher that what the City engineers originally estimated, he complained.
Mayor Benda Gunter defended Reece Albert, explaining that the red hot economy makes skilled labor scarce and expensive and there is a ton of work to be done elsewhere. Gunter’s argument was based upon supply and demand.
The discussion started when council was asked approve spending $1.760 million on the West Concho Avenue Improvements. The project will add a turn lane and widen the entrance to Historic Downtown from Koenigheim/U.S. 277.
In a previous report, City Engineer Russell Pehl told the Council he estimated the project will cost $1.347 million. The bid presented today was $413,000 over Pehl’s original estimate.
Councilman Tom Thompson suggested that the City use its ability to decline projects, since no additional contractors seem interested in bidding on City roads except Reece Albert, Inc.
Reece Albert was the only contractor to bid on the large Bell St. reconstruction project now underway. The San Angelo-based construction company also just completed the reconstruction of S. College Hills north from the intersection with Valleyview.
After the discussion, Council approved the Concho Avenue at Koenigheim Street improvements, $1.76 million and all, unanimously. TxDOT will reimburse the City $597,977.87 once the project is complete, lowering the total cost to the City to $1,162,503.74.
Major Hofheins, Director of the San Angelo Metropolitan Planning Organization, said the shortage of road construction contractors is a statewide problem, and not just a San Angelo issue. He said the Texas Department of Transportation has several projects approved with money allocated locally, but TxDOT is being forced to move much of the construction into the next decade because of labor shortages.
Some roadways in San Angelo are maintained by TxDOT, including Knickerbocker Rd., Sherwood Way, and Loop 306/Houston Harte Expressway.
Old Christoval Road, from S. Chadbourne St, to the southern portion of Loop 306 and U.S. 277, is also maintained and funded by the State, but the shortage of road construction contractors has TxDOT pushing the date to open bids for its rehabilitation back for years.
Hofheins said that TxDOT road construction will soon begin widening he portion of U.S. 67 near Howard College to “interstate grade” roadway, complete with overpasses within weeks, however. That portion of U.S. 67 is considered a portion of the Ports-to-Plains and could become part of the I-27 designation should the federal government, led by Congress, act.