Inflation takes a bite out of Biden's infrastructure ambitions
In West Virginia, a tennis court sits unfinished after more than a year, and an airport project is costing millions of dollars more than expected.
WASHINGTON — In West Virginia, a tennis court sits unfinished after more than a year, and an airport project is costing millions of dollars more than expected. In Alabama, fewer miles of road will get repaved this year after asphalt prices shot up, and the price to build a dog pound has doubled.
Across the country, surging prices for building materials, supply chain disruptions and worker shortages are leaving a raft of infrastructure projects unfinished, delayed or over budget as the White House tries to make rebuilding the country’s infrastructure one of President Joe Biden’s key selling points to voters ahead of the midterm elections.
Biden has been traveling the country holding events at ports and bridges he says will be improved with the $1.2 billion infrastructure bill that was passed last year. But rising prices and a scarcity of materials and workers mean local governments aiming to get some of those funds may get less bang for their buck, forcing them to reassess the scope of what they hope to do with the money.
President Biden, upset at sinking poll numbers, tries to fight inflationMay 31, 202202:15“The prices are just unbelievable, so we’re now trying to figure out what we do and what we’re not going to do,” said Cal Markert, the county manager of Jefferson County, Alabama, which includes Birmingham. He said the construction bid prices coming in for projects are "shocking."
Across the economy, prices were up by 8.3 percent in April compared with a year ago, the highest rate of increase in 40 years. But inflation has hit the construction sector even harder. The cost of building materials and supplies, which rose by more than 20 percent over the last year, is up by 70 percent since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Prices for key materials like iron, steel and softwood lumber, along with the diesel fuel used to operate trucks and construction equipment, have nearly doubled.