NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - More construction jobs have disappeared in the Crescent City in the last year than any other major city in the country. New Orleans lost 2,700 positions in the construction industry in that time frame.
As the federal government wrestles with a long-term spending bill meant to fund significant infrastructure improvements across the country, it's clear congress will likely pass a temporary stop-gap measure instead.
The Senate is expected to take up a House bill before the end of the week that will extend spending for transportation programs through October and boost the federal Highway Trust Fund by $8 billion.
Contractors argue that bill won't be enough to grow construction jobs in Louisiana.
"The lack of a long-term federal bill makes it very difficult for state and local officials to plan and invest in infrastructure projects that can often take years to complete, while employing many construction workers," Ken Simonson, Chief Economist with the Associated General Contractors of America, said.
Industry leaders acknowledge New Orleans likely lost several jobs as major projects like the new University Medical Center is completed, but they say it's time for government officials to make serious progress on a long-term spending plan.
"For seven years congress has been kicking the can down the road, refusing to address the long-term spending issue, it's about time someone, somewhere, within our government, whether it's federal, state, or local, stand up and say we're going to fix our infrastructure, we are falling so far behind as a country and particularly as a state to everybody else," Ken Naquin, with the Associated General Contractors of New Orleans, said.
Now contractors are hoping to put pressure on lawmakers by encouraging drivers to use the #DriveBetterRoads as a way to get more people talking about the lack of funding for the country's infrastructure.
"It's construction workers and constructions businesses and motorist, who suffer with bad, congested, unsafe roads," Simonson said.
The state's Department of Transportation and Development said it does not anticipate putting any current projects on hold because of the Highway Funding plan and has a way to pay contractors and vendors even if congress does not pass a funding extension.