‘Take a Hit’: WSDOT dealing with up to 30% higher costs on construction projects

LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. — Road updates could look different if inflation continues to throw curveballs in the construction season.

Drivers now have to plan for more closures heading out of town on I-90. The eastbound Argonne exit is closed, and DOT says prepare for the closure to last through July. As work continues on 280 lane miles this summer, the department is monitoring higher prices.

“We’ll just see where it goes,” said Ryan Overton. He’s a Communications Manager for WSDOT Eastern Region.

Road work has to get done, but the price tag on materials isn’t pretty.

“Oil being one of them, contractors are coming back with significantly higher bids — roughly 20, 25, 30% higher,” he added.

Higher bids mean possible cuts. On one state road, they wanted to install more climb lanes. Now, they can’t.

“It’s still going to get built, and it’s at budget, but it’s going to come with 3 climbing lanes instead of the 4,” Overton said.

For drivers dealing with the detours, it’s not fun.

“Even if you’re running like five minutes late, it just makes it feel like you’re running 15 minutes late just with that construction alone,” said Traci Lopez. She’s dealing with road detours when she drops her daughter off at daycare.

Construction is costing more which is also adding stress to those doing the projects.

“It does affect our work, absolutely. Material costs go up. Fuel gas prices go up, so it does take a hit on us — yes,” said Overton.

Drivers want to make sure as DOT watches costs, they aren’t cutting back on quality.

“If it’s not getting fixed properly, it’s just going to keep happening, so it’s kind of like a cycle I guess,” Lopez said.

Another curveball to the season is the unseasonably cold start to spring. Because of it, they’ve had to delay some work to later in the summer.

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