On the night of the I-85 bridge collapse state lawmakers were finishing up their 2017 session, and a few suggested - at least partially in jest - that they needed to pass an emergency appropriations bill of $20 million or so to pay for the repairs before they left Atlanta.
State officials say they don’t yet know how much the I-85 rebuild will cost.
“We are going to do everything we can to get things back to normal,” Gov. Nathan Deal said Monday.
But even without an emergency appropriations, the state has been ramping up highway construction spending big-time in the past year or so.
Lawmakers have approved borrowing $100 million for road and bridge projects the past few sessions. And an even bigger pot of road money has come from the General Assembly’s decision in 2015 to raise fuel and hotel taxes to pay for road work.
Those taxes alone brought in an extra $780 million in fiscal 2016, which ended June 30, and they have continued to increase this this year.
State records show the Department of Transportation paid out $2.2 billion in 2016, up about 30 percent from five years ago.
The amount the DOT was obligated to pay to contractors and others at the end of 2016 was up more than $700 million from the previous year, according to Open Georgia, the state’s transparency site.
All that spending, of course, means that some companies have already been ramping up to fulfill DOT contracts.
The undisputed king of DOT contractors most years is C.W. Matthews of Marietta. The company has been paid about $1.6 billion by the state for road work since 2010. It won a $139 million bid in 2015 to do the I-85 hot-lane extension in Gwinnett County and has been the lead contractor on many big projects in metro Atlanta.
C.W. Matthews, a politically well-connected company, was paid three times as much as the next top road contractor in 2016, according to Open Georgia. Below is the top 10 in 2016 in terms of what they were paid and what the state is obligated to pay them:
- C.W. Matthews, Marietta, $296.4 million
- E.R. Snell, Snellville, $95.5 million
- Reeves Construction, Macon, $42.8 million
- Scott Bridge Co., Opelika, Ala., $37.3 million
- Pittman Construction Co., Conyers, $34.7 million
- Reames and Son Construction, Tifton, $30.8 million
- McCarthy Improvement Co., Davenport, Iowa, $29.2 million
- Oxford Construction Co., Albany, $28.6 million
- GP’s Enterprises Inc., Auburn, $27.6 million
- Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Atlanta, $26.2 million
Obligated contracts in 2016
- C.W. Matthews, Marietta, $356.4 million
- Reeves Construction, Macon, $158.9 million
- The Scruggs Co., Hahira, $143.3 million
- East Coast Asphalt, Douglas, $95.9 million
- E.R. Snell, Snellville, $94.9 million
- Lovin Contracting Co., Robbinsville, NC, $80.5 million
- Pittman Construction Co., Conyers, $78.0 million
- Reames & Sons Construction, Tifton, $54.1 million
- Wright Brothers Construction, Charleston, Tenn., $52.3 million
- Littlefield Construction Company, Waycross, $38.1 million
Source: Open Georgia