Transportation Project Jobs

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The Maricopa Association of Governments recently added $1.25 billion in projects to its Regional Transportation Plan. Combined with other projects already in the works, there are $3.25 billion in highway and freeway projects planned. Ken Simonson, the chief economist of the Associated General Contractors of America, will be in Phoenix to talk about jobs created by the transportation spending. Simonson will talk about that along with Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, who is the chair of the MAG Economic Development Committee.

THE NATIONAL ECONOMIST OF DOG CREATED FOR THE ARIZONA ROAD PROJECT. AND JUNE IS NATIONAL PTSD AWARENESS MONTH. HEAR ABOUT VETERANS WITH PTSD. AND A KID RAPPER WITH AN ANTI-BULLYING MESSAGE. NEXT ON ARIZONA HORIZON.

RICK DEBRUHL: WE'LL GET READY FOR SOME ROAD CONSTRUCTION. THAT'S THE GOOD NEWS. THE MARICOPA ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNORS ADDED $1.25 BILLION IN PROJECTS TO THE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION PLAN. THE PROJECTS ALREADY IN THE WORKS, THEY'RE NOW $5.7 BILLION IN HIGHWAY, FREEWAY, AND RAIL PROJECTS THAT ARE PLANNED. BUT IT MEANS MORE THAN JUST ROADS. HERE TO TALK ABOUT THE PEOPLE BEYOND JUST SPENDING, FROM SCOTTSDALE, JIM LANE, THE CHAIR OF THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE. WE'LL START WITH YOU. TALK ABOUT WHAT THE PROJECTS ARE. WHAT KIND OF THINGS WILL WE DO IN THE VALLEY AROUND THE STATE AT $5.7 BILLION DOLLARS.

JIM LANE: FIRST AND FOREMOST, I LIKE TO SAY PART OF THAT MONEY, $1.25 BILLION OF THAT IS ON THE BASIS OF A REBALANCING OF FUNDS. IN THE DOWNTURN OF THE ECONOMY, WE HAD A TREMENDOUS CONTRACTION. WE HAD A DROPOFF IN THE AMOUNT OF FUNDS THAT WERE AVAILABLE. SO SOME OF THESE PROJECTS WERE A PRODUCT OF REENGINEERING AND RECOVERY.

RICK DEBRUHL: SO IN OTHER WORDS, THEY WERE PLANNED BUT THE BUDGET HAD TO BE TIGHTED TO PUT THEM BACK ON.

JIM LANE: RIGHT AND THE ENGINEERING WE ENDED UP SAVING A GREAT DEAL OF MONEY BY LOOKING AT THE PROJECTS AGAIN AND FRANKLY REORGANIZING THEM. SOME OF THEM WERE IN THE LONG HAUL. SOME WERE EDGED BECAUSE THEY OVERCAME SOMETHING ELSE THAT WAS LESS DESIRABILITY AND LESS FUNCTION. THEY WERE GREAT PROGRAMS.

RICK DEBRUHL: WE WERE ABLE TO HAVE $1.25 MILLION. IS IT NEW MONEY OR REENGINEERING.

JIM LANE: IT IS REENGINERRING AND RECOVERY. BECAUSE WE LOST A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR AN EXTENDED AMOUNT OF TIME WITH THE PROP 400 REGIONAL SALES TAX WAS OFF SO MUCH IN A GREAT RECESSION.

RICK DEBRUHL: WHAT TYPES OF THINGS ARE GOING B TO HAPPEN WITH THIS $5.7 BILLION.

JIM LANE: A NUMBER OF THINGS, OF COURSE. AND THE ADS TO IT WAS THE STUDY THAT TOLD US THAT THE EXCHANGES ON I-17, THE OVERPASSES AND THE EXCHANGES WERE REALLY CARRYING MORE TRAFFIC THAN I-17 IN THOSE SECTIONS AND THINGS. SO THAT WAS A MAJOR -- NOT ONLY A PART OF THE REENGINEERING -- BUT ALSO A RETHINKING OF WHAT THEIR APPLICATION WAS. THAT'S A NEW ONE.

RICK DEBRUHL: WE'RE FIXING THE BROADWAY CURVE.

JIM LANE: FIXING THE BROADWAY CURVE IS OBVIOUSLY ONE OF OUR SPINE ISSUES. THAT'S THE I-17 TO THE I-10. SO THAT IS ONE OF THOSE MAJOR CORRIDORS FOR US THAT WE HAVE LIMITED PROSPECTS FOR HOW WE CAN EXPAND CAPACITY THERE. THOSE ARE THE THINGS THAT NEEDED TO BE STUDIED AS TO HOW WE COULD ENHANCE IT. THAT IS PART OF THAT PROGRAM RIGHT THERE.

RICK DEBRUHL: YOU MENTIONED THE INTERCHANGE. ALSO TALKING ABOUT WIDENING THE SAN TAN FREEWAY, ONE LANE IN EACH DIRECTION.

JIM LANE: RIGHT. THAT'S ON A CONTINUING PROGRAM. THAT'S SOMETHING THAT'S BEEN PLANNED FROM THE BEGINNING. THE ROADWAYS GATHER UP MOMENTUM. GATHER MOMENTUM AROUND IT AND BRING THE JOBS FROM THE COMPANY THAT SEE ARE IN THE TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE BEING AS STRONG AS IT IS. HEY, WHEN IT COMES TO TIME, YOU GOT IT WRONG. SOMETIMES PEOPLE ARGUE AND SAY WHY DIDN'T YOU DO IT IN THE FIRST PLACE? WE ALL KNOW THAT'S NOT THE WAY IT REALLY WORKS. SO WHEN WE TALK ABOUT CONSTRUCTION, EVEN THOUGH WE WELCOME CONSTRUCTION, THERE'S A GOOD BIT OF PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITY SAYING JEEZ, OR THEY ARE WORKING ON THE ROADS AGAIN. JUST GOING TO BE NOTHING BUT A HEADACHE AGAIN. BUT IN THE LONG RUN, IT IS A VERY POSITIVE THING.

RICK DEBRUHL: $5.7 BILLION OVER A PERIOD OF TIME MEANS A LOT OF CONSTRUCTION JOBS. IT GOES BEYOND THAT, KEN SIMONSON, EXPLAIN THAT.

KEN SIMONSON: ABSOLUTELY. $5.7 BILLION MEANS ABOUT 16,000 JOBS THROUGHOUT THE COMMUNITY, THROUGHOUT THE ECONOMY. EACH YEAR FOR 10 YEARS. THIS IS A 10-YEAR PROGRAM. ABOUT A THIRD OF THOSE JOBS ARE CONSTRUCTION JOBS, THE HARD HATS YOU WILL SEE OUT BY THE HIGHWAY, OR TRANSIT PROJECTS, ALSO THE PEOPLE ORDERING THE EQUIPMENT SCHEDULING AND DOING EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE CONSTRUCTION FIRM. ABOUT A SIXTH OF THE JOBS COME FROM A RANGE OF INDUSTRIES AND THEY'RE SUPPLYING MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT AND SERVICES TO CONSTRUCTION. BUT THE IMPACT THAT YOU'LL FEEL THROUGHOUT IS INDIRECT, IT'S WHAT WE CALL INDEUCED JOBS, AS THE WORKERS AND OPENERS AND THE CONSTRUCTION SUPPLYING BUSINESSES SUSPEND THAT ADDITIONAL WAGE AND SALARY AND PROFIT-TYPE INCOME THAT THEY'RE GETTING FROM THIS PROJECT. AND THE BIGGEST BENEFIT IS WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THEY ALL LEAVE THAT JOB. PEOPLE THINK, OH, THESE ARE TEMPORARY JOBS. BUT THE BENEFIT OF SPENDING MONEY ON INFRASTRUCTURE IS THAT YOU HAVE SOMETHING OF LASTING VALUE THAT IS GOING TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE, THE SAFETY, THE PRODUCTIVITY, AND THE COMPETITIVENESS OF THIS WHOLE REGION. WITHOUT IT, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE GRID LOCK. AND THIS IS REALLY ESSENTIAL FOR KEEPING THE GROWTH GOING. LAST CAREER MARICOPA COUNTY HAD THE BIGGEST INCREASE IN POPULATION IN THE COUNTRY. 81,000 PEOPLE WERE ADDED TO THE LARGE POPULATION HERE. IF YOU KEEP GOING LIKE THAT, NOBODY WILL BE ABLE TO MOVE, UNLESS YOU DO PROJECTS LIKE THIS.

RICK DEBRUHL: ARE WE KEEPING PACE WITH THE REST OF THE COUNTRY? WHERE WOULD YOU PUT US?

KEN SIMONSON: WE'RE MIXED. GETTING AHEAD OF THE PROBLEM IN SOME OF THE AREAS. BUT AS MAYOR LANE SAID IT'S CATCHING UP WITH THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN PLAN ADD LONG TIME AGO. HAD TO BE PULLED OFF THE DRAWING BOARD FOR A WHILE. SOME OF IT WILL REACH WHERE THE NEW POPULATION, WHERE THE NEW BUSINESSES ARE. BUT OTHERS ARE GOING TO FIX PROBLEMS THAT HAVE BEEN THERE FOR AWHILE.

RICK DEBRUHL: HOW WIDE SPREAD ARE THESE IN TERMS OF ONE IN THE AREA OF THE VALLEY THAT'S GOING TO BE AFFECTED, OR IS IT EVERYWHERE?

JIM LANE: WE HAVE A CONSCIOUS EFFORT REALLY TO MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE ADDRESSING THE ISSUES. THIS IS A PRIORITIZATION. WE'RE NOT TRYING TO BE TOO POLITICAL ABOUT IT, BUT WE'RE IN TO SOLVING PROBLEMS. WE KNOW THE ISSUES WILL DEVELOP. THAT'S PART OF WHAT THE MASTER PLAN HAS BEEN ALL ALONG. THE DIRECTION IS WIDE SPREAD. IN REGARD TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, WHICH IS FRANKLY WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE, AS TRANSPORTATION PLAYS A MAJOR ROLE. NOT JUST THE JOBS ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF IT, IT'S WHAT IT SAYS. AND KEN DID TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THIS AS WELL. WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT A COMMUNITY THAT HAS THAT INFRASTRUCTURE AND IS ADDRESSING IT ON A CONTINUING BASIS IN A RESPONSIBLE WAY. THAT'S WHAT I THINK THE SECRET HAS BEEN FOR US, IS THAT, YEAH, WE HAVE TRAFFIC JAMS STILL? YES. BUT REALLY, THEY ARE -- THEY PALE IN COMPARISON TO SOME OF OUR MAJOR COMPETITORS. WHEN BUSINESSES LOOK AT THE VALLEY AND THE REGION COMPARED TO SOME CITIES THAT HAVE BEEN LAGGING RESPONDING TO IT. I WOULDN'T WANT TO PICK ON ANYONE. BUT THERE ARE BIG CITIES.

RICK DEBRUHL: WE'RE ALMOST OUT OF TIME. BUT HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THIS IN TERMS OF TALKING ABOUT THAT? IS IT GOING TO MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE FOR US HERE IN ARIZONA IN TERMS OF THE ABILITY TO BRING YOU BUSINESS?

KEN SIMONSON: I THINK IT'S ALREADY DEMONSTRATED THAT BUSINESSES ARE FLOCKING TO THE VALLEY HERE. THE WHOLE STATE HAS ONE OF THE HIGHEST GROWING POPULATIONS AND YOU ARE SEEING AN INCREASE IN STATE INCOME. THIS ADDS $3 TO THE STATE'S GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT FOR A DOLLAR PUT INTO THE PROJECT. SO A REAL MULTIPLIER THERE.

RICK DEBRUHL: THE CHIEF ECONOMIST FOR THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF AMERICA, THANK YOU. APPRECIATE YOUR TIME. THIS IS ARIZONA HORIZON. UP NEXT, PTSD IN VETERANS.

Ken Simonson: Chief Economist, Associated General Contractors of America

Jim Lane: Scottsdale Mayor, Chair, MAG Economic Development Committee

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