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Rising costs add $15M to Texas 105 widening work

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The bill for larger roads in Texas keeps rising, which officials say the state Department of Transportation is absorbing — for now — with a Montgomery County project becoming the latest to jump by price.

On Thursday in Austin, the Texas Transportation Commission approved construction of the Texas 105 widening from Conroe to Liberty County, despite the $15.8 million cost overrun. The lowest bid for the project was $107 million.

Combined with another project also approved for construction, the Texas Department of Transportation plans to spend nearly $196 million to widen Texas 105 from Conroe to Liberty County into a four-lane freeway to accommodate rapid growth. of the region. The road expansion has been a divisive issue among residents for years as construction nears.

The construction, meanwhile, comes at a time when costs are uncertain for TxDOT. Every category it tracks as part of its construction cost index is at an all-time high, with overall costs up 26% in September from the same month last year. Officials predict costs will continue to rise amid continued high inflation and ongoing supply shortages.

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“It seemed to me that maybe that was just the tip of the iceberg,” said Transportation Commission Chairman Bruce Bugg.

When officials approved Texas’ 10-year transportation plan in August, they factored in the rising costs of major projects, setting aside about 25% of money spent on expanding and rebuilding major exchangers. This meant that fewer projects were slated for funding, but also that those listed had some leeway to manage price increases for steel, concrete and labour.

“I don’t think inflation is going away, but I also want to make sure we’re doing our part to manage this money well,” Transport Commissioner Laura Ryan said on Thursday.

Yet just two months after setting aside funds for the increases, highway officials warn that not all of the increases will be absorbed.

“It’s not just every project that’s presented, an automatic stamp, ‘let’s go,'” said commissioner Alvin New.

This could mean that some projects are delayed or scaled back as these increases reduce construction costs.

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