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Escalating prices prompt DOT to reject 12 project bids

ATLANTA – Inflation is having an impact on the Georgia Department of Transportation’s construction schedule.

The DOT has rejected bids on 12 projects that had been due for letting next month, Meg Pirkle, the agency’s chief engineer, told members of the State Transportation Board Thursday.

Bids are coming in an average of 33% above what the DOT was anticipating, Pirkle said.

“We have to balance the funds we have with what we can do,” she said. “With prices going up that much, we’re not going to be able to deliver everything that’s in the program.”

Georgia Commissioner of Transportation Russell McMurry said any projects the DOT lets next month probably would not be ready for paving to be applied this year. Therefore, the agency can wait until this fall or early next year to let projects without suffering a major impact on the schedule, he said.

“We were hedging that the [price of a] barrel of oil may come down, and asphalt and cement prices may come down,” he said.

McMurry said the DOT could stretch out the cost of major projects by bidding them out in several smaller segments.

He said the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Congress passed last fall is helping the agency cope with the higher prices of building materials.

“It’s keeping our head at water level,” he said.

In other news, McMurry said the temporary suspension of the state sales tax on gasoline and other motor fuels the General Assembly approved in March cost the DOT $294 million in lost tax revenue during April, May, and June.

With prices at the pump surging well beyond $4 a gallon, Gov. Brian Kemp has issued executive orders twice renewing the suspension. The second order is due to expire in mid-August.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.