Georgia and Florida, the Eldorado for American Infrastructure

Georgia is the best state for construction in 2023, but Florida remains the American model

For the first time, Georgia has been named the best American state for the construction sector. The special ranking, introduced in 2015 by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), places Florida in second position, a state that has consistently been among the Top 10 and continues to be, according to the association, a “benchmark for merit.”

This particular report, called “Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard,” assesses significant information for the industry and identifies, among all 50 states, those with laws, policies, priorities, and programs favorable to infrastructure, as well as those requiring improvements. The so-called “merit shop” is based on state policies regarding the right to work, prevailing wages, government-imposed project labor agreements, access to public-private partnerships, the availability of grants and incentives for employers valuing training, and the inclusion of professional and technical education credits in high school requirements.

Georgia and Florida, an opportunity for future engineers

This year’s snapshot highlighted how Georgia continues to thrive in the construction sector and workforce development. According to the ABC ranking, this year, 99% of career and technical education students in the state obtained credentials to pursue their careers in the industry. Georgia had ranked third in 2022.

Florida maintained its merit leadership by ensuring fair and open competition, creating an environment conducive to the overall success of the industry, and promoting a pipeline of highly skilled workers.

Public-private partnership, Florida's winning move

In the details of the Florida model, where Lane Construction (Webuild) is active with various contracts for improving mobility and infrastructure in the metropolitan areas of Tampa and Orlando, the state’s authorization of the use of Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) on horizontal and vertical construction projects, acceptance of unsolicited bids, incentives for workforce development, and a 2.7% job growth rate are commendable.

Among the top five, Arkansas ranked third, Wisconsin fourth, and Indiana fifth. Completing the top 10 states are Iowa, Kentucky, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. Conversely, the bottom five states are Hawaii, Rhode Island, Washington, New York, and Washington D.C., each receiving negative ratings in creating conditions and policies for contractors to prosper.

The project of the bridge inspired by the Long Beach International Gateway

Returning to Georgia, its Department of Transportation (GDOT) has just presented to the attention of contractors active in the state a list of planned works for the next two years, with a total investment of 5 billion dollars. It involves a myriad of small and medium-sized projects for the modernization and replacement of road structures, mostly related to improvements on the Georgia section of I-75, the interstate that vertically connects the South and North of the United States, starting from Florida and reaching up to Canada.

The most significant project involves the replacement of the Eugene Talmadge Bridge, the cable-stayed bridge that crosses the Savannah River, named after the city that provides Georgia with a commercial outlet to the Atlantic Ocean and constitutes the third busiest port in the United States in terms of traffic volume. The existing span of the Talmadge Bridge poses an obstacle to the passage of the largest New Panamax and next-generation vessels. This project is reminiscent of the one carried out in 2020 by Webuild in Long Beach, California, which led to the replacement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge with the innovative cable-stayed structure called the Long Beach International Gateway, now the second-highest bridge of its kind in the United States, with its two towers rising about 160 meters.

In that list of works, the GDOT has planned maintenance works for the current bridge amounting to 179 million dollars, which sound like a prelude to the awaited decision of the state government. To promote the growth of the port of Savannah, the state government is considering the construction of one of the tallest bridges in the world, with an estimated cost of 1.2 billion, or the construction of a tunnel under the river, with an investment of 2 billion dollars.