More and more states are contracting out maintenance of their highways and gradually expanding the scope of services delegated to private companies. Florida will soon have all of its highways under private management contracts. Texas DOT Executive Director Phil Wilson announced a few week ago that parts of Interstates 35 and 45 between Dallas and Houston and Dallas and San Antonio would be contracted out at an estimated cost of $90 million a year. If all the highway maintenance contracts in the U.S. were laid end-to-end, the total would make the private outsourcing industry the equivalent of the fourth largest state DOT in the country.
Seven $1-billion-plus projects with a maintenance component are coming up for contract awards by April next year. Depending on how they roll out, a shortage of bidding capability could impact schedules. If the projects applying for TIFIA loans move into procurement quickly, the maintenance contractor strains could be a much bigger problem.