State road contractors say they fear they'll have an unpleasant surprise waiting for them as they start work again after the state's shutdown: Language in the bills that resolved Minnesota's budget crisis leaves them to absorb construction costs related to the shutdown.
"After a long winter shutdown, you want to get back to work. You're just building your momentum up again to get started for a long summer, and then you're shutdown," said Dave Semerad, CEO of the trade group Associated General Contractors of Minnesota. "This is adding insult to injury."
But MnDOT says it hasn't made a final determination about what the legislation will mean for state road contracts. Earlier this year it announced a slate of 258 road construction projects in 2011, with an estimated cost of almost $900 million - less than 2010's record $1.3 billion outlay, but ambitious never the less. Some 90 of those were under way before the shutdown.
"We know the contractors are anxious to get their employees back to work, and we want to do whatever we can to make up for the disruption to our schedules," Sorel said in a statement. "This is the height of our construction season and we want to make up for this lost time."
But the contractor's trade group is considering legal action if the state's routine claims system doesn't pay for costs of mothballing projects during the shutdown.