By Hank Kita, STA Executive Director
As New York City’s construction industry slowly slides towards its own COVID recession, it is time for the federal government to collectively get off its duff and act on a stimulus package that will provide both state and local governments with the needed funding to get public projects and capital programs moving forward again.
My office has received its share of calls and emails from members expressing concern that projects from entities such as the SCA, DDC, DASNY, MTA and other public agencies remain stalled in the pipeline since the construction pause was lifted by Governor Cuomo in early June. Some projects already underway or under contract at these agencies have moved forward since the restart. However, many more projects have been placed on indefinite hold because of the COVID induced budget crisis brought about by plummeting tax revenues in Albany and at City Hall.
In an ominous development, it appears that architecture and engineering firms have begun to furlough staff for a lack of work for the design of new public and private projects. If the front end of the pipeline is drying up, it will only be a matter of time before the negative impact on construction contractors is fully felt in the coming months. Some construction managers and general contractors have begun to predict that the second half of 2021 will see the local construction market dry up if federal financial help is not provided soon.
A third federal stimulus relief package has been stalled in the Senate for most of the summer. It is through this relief package that the state and city governments can get an infusion of funds that will allow a significant number of the stalled public projects to move forward. Likewise, it is time for Congress to finally agree on a national infrastructure plan and program that will shore up our failing infrastructure while providing a much needed stimulus for our national, state and local economies.
The STA has gone on record with our elected officials in support of a national infrastructure program and economic stimulus package and has reached out to local public agencies urging them to move their projects out of the pipeline quickly. We will continue to weigh in on this issue with our elected and appointed officials at all levels of government. I personally urge STA members and their respective trade associations to add their voices to this cause by contacting their federal, state, and local officials regarding the situation. It is time for our industry to unite before the worst predictions of a construction recession are realized!