Material delays, labor shortage slowing Peoria County road projects
As the road construction season picks up heading into the summer, drivers may have to endure a longer period of delays and detours this year.
Peoria County engineer Amy McLaren says work on some of their projects has been pushed back as much as 6-8 months, and they may not be able to afford as many repairs as they had hoped.
“We have a few bridge projects that we have on slate to be starting this summer. We have also an overlay and some other maintenance seal coating-type of work that we have going on,” said McLaren.
“As far as the status, this has been an unusual year. We've had some delays due to supply issues with material that goes into our bridge beams, and we've also had some issues with the cost of materials. Our bid prices have increased due to shortages around the country (and) different things going on in the world right now.”
McLaren said federal and state infrastructure funding meant to cover their road projects is getting used up quickly as the material and labor shortages result in escalating project costs. She said bids for one project they estimated at about $5 million came in at $5.8 million.
“It's a little frustrating from the financing side when you estimate a project cost and then when you put it out to bid for the contractors, then all of a sudden the costs are, are way higher than we anticipated because of the labor and because of the materials,” said McLaren. “Now that money that we got from the state or the feds, it just doesn't go as far. It's very frustrating because we did get this influx of money to take care of these issues, and now we just can't do as much as we had hoped to do.”
Ongoing bridge rehab work on Truitt Road near Chillicothe is expected to last until August, while Swords Avenue in West Peoria will close June 6 to accommodate bridge repairs near Farmington Road that are expected to last until early November.
“A lot of (the delay) has to do with some of the materials that go into it, such as steel (for) some of the reinforcing bars that might be going into these bridges, and it is months,” said McLaren. “It is months, and we don't know. We don't have any idea. We just know it's been delayed, so we have to keep checking back with the supplier.
“It's very frustrating for the motoring public. We'd like to give them a heads up, let them know what's going on, and the best we can say is, ‘we don't know; we'll keep you updated.’ It's very frustrating for the for the residents and the businesses and the property owners. They're trying to plan around our construction activities, and I don't have good information for them.”
McLaren said the extra infrastructure money available to all agencies has increased demand for road workers and materials, further straining the ability to get projects done. But she says they’re making every effort to avoid pushing projects into next year.
“What we're seeing now is we're trying to dig deep and find that additional funds if there's additional costs, so we can get in and get it done,” said McLaren. “Because that's what the public expects, (for) us to go in and use that money and not just sit on it. So we're trying to dig deep and find that money to get those projects done.”
McLaren asks motorists to stay patient and drive safely as the road work continues.
“We don't want to be in your way at all. We're trying to get out of there as quickly as possible, because the contractors have so many other jobs they have to do,” she said. “So if you can be patient with us find the alternate route, follow the detours, (and) plan your trip a little bit more as well. Look on social media and on the websites, listen to the media as far as road closures and detours. Keep yourself updated, then you won't get as frustrated when you encounter one of these construction zones.”