The South Carolina Department of Transportation is getting another step closer to putting the stimulus funds to work. After receiving $463 million to be used towards projects such as building new bridges and repaving roads, the DOT has identified most of the shovel-ready projects where funds will be allocated. Last week, bids were excepted from contractors on 12 different contracts and there are just a few minor details to iron out, according to Pete Poore, communications director of the SCDOT. “By low bidder, actually it is the most qualified bidder…not only do they have the lowest price but they have to prove they can do the work.
“Our engineers are in contract negotiations with them right now. That’s where they cross the Ts and dot the Is. We’re anticipating that those contracts will be formally awarded in the first week of May. At that point, that’s where the contractors will get a notice to proceed which means, OK, we’re done, go to work.”
Poore says the stimulus money has doubled the SCDOT’s budget for this year and all of the money needs to be spent. None of the current projects being done in the state are related to the stimulus funds. He also says the SCDOT was able to fund the most important projects in every county and that was a huge priority. “The baseline criteria was that every county would receive funding and that has occurred,” said Poore.
“For example, a project in Richland County did not have to compete with a project in Charleston County. The criteria was broken down onto the county level. In other words, in the re-surfacing category the top roads in Richland County, or any county, (the question was asked) what are the top priorities in this county? That’s where the money went.”
Poore says that the bidding for the current projects came in under budget leaving more money for other projects. “Whenever we put a project out for bid, our engineers estimate the best of their ability what a project is going to cost,” he said. “We don’t advertise that because we want to see what the market will bear, so to speak.
“All of those 57 projects or actually those 12 contracts came in 21 percent lower then we thought they would which is good because that means there is more money for more projects.”