April 23, 2012
An April 20 workshop was held in advance of advertising contracts for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project to help disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) in New York and its neighboring states better compete for contracts and help DBEs subcontracting opportunities on the project.
“President Obama has called on us to rebuild America by putting people back to work on transportation projects that can make a difference, and small business is an important part of this effort” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a written statement about the workshop from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). “Putting small and disadvantaged businesses to work on projects like the Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement will help ensure all companies have an opportunity to play a part in an America built to last.”
Last October, President Obama named this bridge, which is critical to the region’s economy, one of a handful of projects that should receive expedited permitting. Replacing the aging bridge will correct structural, operational and safety features of the existing bridge, according to FHWA.
When constructed in 1955, the Tappan Zee Bridge was designed to carry 100,000 vehicles at its peak. The bridge now carries an estimated 138,000 vehicles each day and up to 160,000 on certain weekends.
Heavy traffic volume along I-87/I-287 and I-95 makes this bridge a major traffic chokepoint along one of the East Coast’s major economic routes, according to FHWA. In addition, the bridge’s accident rate is double that of the New York Thruway system – it has seven narrow lanes and no safety shoulders, and it is vulnerable to damage from storms, ship collision and earthquakes.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez in a press release. “By helping small and disadvantaged businesses compete, we can keep the cost of transportation projects low, create jobs and deliver transportation solutions to the American people.”
New York’s workshop is the latest in a series of national forums held to share best practices in achieving DBE goals on major projects. U.S. Department of Transportation officials will meet with small and disadvantaged business owners, state and local transportation officials and others in coming months about major projects in other states.
Since 2010, FHWA has hosted similar meetings around the country to focus on opportunities for minority- and women-owned small and disadvantaged businesses. The meetings helped prepare small businesses to compete for federal projects valued, in total, at more than $21 billion.