Road and bridge contractors are claiming that work is getting caught up in the state’s racial preference rules, which requires positions to be filled by minority and women-owned subcontractors.
Meeting the quota has always been a challenge, but the end result this year is particularly disappointing knowing there is an extra pile of federal money. New York is not giving any waivers, either, which means the work will most likely be delayed until next spring.
Jim McGee with A.L. Blades & Sons, told the Times Union that his contracting firm may have to lay off as many as 250 employees because of the stop gap. He estimated that the backlog due to meeting the DBE requirement has grown to $228 million in road and bridgework.
“Before we award a contract, we evaluate the prospective contractor’s good-faith effort in meeting the DBE participation goal,” Skip Carrier, a spokesman for the New York State Department of Transportation, told the Times Union. “The record level of construction funding this year together with our current workforce has resulted in additional time in some cases to evaluate a contractor’s good-faith efforts if the contractor was unable to explicitly meet the DBE goal assigned to the contract.”
Jeff DiSteffano of Harrison & Burrowes Bridge Constructors told the Times Union that finding those disadvantaged workers have been hard to come by. He is still waiting to get the green light on a bridge repair job that was awarded on June 18 because the company was still trying to come up with the necessary DBE partners.