Watch for a big announcement next week from NCDOT:
A list of the first big batch of highway, bridge and other transportation projects to benefit from the first few hundred million dollars coming our way in federal transportation stimulus spending. Actually DOT already has put a few of these jobs, worth $93 million, out for bids that will be opened in March.
Next week's list will include plans to spend much more, including some Triangle projects, for the April, May and June bid lettings. Road builders and other contractors that have seen tight times lately will have the prospect of more work.
Most of this money will go for projects previously approved for eventual construction in DOT's 7-year spending plan, the 2009-2015 State Transportation Improvement Program. This will get them going faster. The TIP represents the consensus of state and local transportation boards on what gets done when.
Next week's spending list also, for reasons we'll wait to hear, will include items not previously approved as part of the TIP. The state will have to move quickly to add these projects to this official plan, to make them eligible for the federal moolah.
That's just the first wave. In coming weeks NCDOT and local planning boards will work on priorities for spending the second wave of stimulus money. Local metropolitan planning organizations will have authority to make some of these decisions.
Members of the Capital Area MPO board were told Wednesday that the first list would be announced Friday, but DOT spokesman Ernie Seneca says it'll be sometime next week.