In Florida, busy motorways and congested cities are breathing a sigh of relief following DeSantis’ order for residents to stay at home. While many industries are grinding to a halt in these unprecedented times, $2.1bn has been set aside for construction projects. These will include motorways, bridges, and other infrastructure in need of repairs and maintenance that would ordinarily cause traffic to bottleneck. The Howard Franklin Bridge project between Tampa and St. Petersburg is just one of the projects earmarked for the lockdown, and existing construction sites have been given the go-ahead for now.
Transportation Gets The Nod
The full $2.1bn will go towards projects earmarked by the Department of Transport (DOT) as urgent and that have the potential to reduce commuter congestion. Road maintenance in Florida becomes increasingly hard to attend to as traffic delay is the unfortunate fallout of any of these projects. While necessary, even a slight delay in traffic has a ripple effect on the economy and by rushing the work to have as little impact on the traffic as possible, could cause quality delays. Studies reveal that in 2019, traffic congestion alone cost the US $87bn. For Florida, attending to these repairs now means that when the order is lifted, major road repair wouldn’t have to bog down the economy further.
Other Constructions Sites Remain Open
While road workers can anticipate longer shift stretches due to the reduction in traffic, building construction is also grouped in with essential services. For now, construction sites that are open are deemed essential businesses. This irrespective of the building type which will allow projects to continue with as little disruption as possible. Construction is a vital part of the economy and with the reduction in traffic, projects might just be completed ahead of schedule as heavy-duty vehicles such as excavators, tower cranes, and bucket trucks have more room for maneuverability in and around sites. Other industries that will relish the reduction in traffic to speed up service delivery include delivery services, taxis and ridesharing services, and those reliant on completing a supply chain.
Precautions For Those Deemed Essential Workers
While construction sites might still seem abuzz during the stay-at-home request, it’s with serious faces and six-feet distances. Construction sites are paying close attention to the safety of the sites after two workers tested positive for coronavirus in south Florida. Construction sites that easily have upward of 200 workers onsite, now function with around 25 to 30. This is essential to ensure that workers have sufficient space to perform their duties without placing themselves in danger or endangering others. For those on-site, it’s important to employ good personal hygiene and glove up as much as possible as there is a lot of tool-sharing that takes place. If at all possible, workers should be allocated their own tools to reduce site risk.
While Florida is keeping the local economy thriving by keeping as many industries open as possible, whether this would still be the case in a few weeks will depend on the ability to curb the spread of the virus. It also remains to be seen whether construction will still be deemed essential as time wears on.