Low labor and material costs and increased competition for government work drove down prices and allowed more road and bridge construction for less money in Wyoming in 2009, officials say.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation used about $160 million in federal stimulus money to pay for what initial engineer estimates put at more than $180 million.
That meant taxpayers paid about $20 million less for dozens of transportation projects across the state.
Ken Spear, a contracts and estimates engineer with the transportation department, said savings from lower bids are funneled back into more projects.
Officials in Casper said the city has benefited from lower costs as well, spending about $20 million rather than the anticipated $25 million.
“We’re getting great prices now compared to the last few years, so we’re getting more work done for the money than we have been,” said City Manager Tom Forslund.
That means construction projects have continued despite a budget crunch faced by the city, where revenues have dropped the last six months.
“It’s hard to strike a fine balance,” said Casper Mayor Kenyne Schlager. “We’re getting good deals so you want to keep going, but at some point, you have to say, ‘Maybe this project can wait.’ We have kind of been keeping the economy going in a sense and saving taxpayer money.”
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