AUSTIN (KXAN) - If you're in the market for heavy equipment like bulldozers, backhoes and front-end loaders, the folks at the Texas Department of Transportation are the ones to see.
Phil Wilson, TxDOT's executive director, says the agency is having a blowout sale to downsize the heavy equipment fleet from 16,000 pieces of equipment to 10,000 across the state. In the Austin district, the inventory will shrink from 750 to 340.
“We have more vehicles than we need, so let's talk about how we reduce that and save money for taxpayers,” Wilson said.
TxDOT officials explained that – instead of owning an older piece of equipment and using it only a few days at a time – it would cheaper for the agency to occasionally rent a replacement instead.
And in a recent test, a crew working with a piece of older road-widening equipment was completing about 1,800 feet a day. After renting a newer unit to finish the job, they were completing about 9,000 feet a day.
Over a decade, Wilson estimates this plan should save the state $500 million.
"Every dollar you can find allows you to put that money back into projects,” he said.
TxDOT said this plan would not eliminate any jobs, and the companies renting out the equipment would go through a competitive bidding process. As for the equipment sales, TxDOT has not yet determined a date for an auction.
The agency that maintains 80,000 of the 194,000 highway lane miles in Texas rolled out a pilot program this year, retiring underutilized equipment in three of its districts, and now it is moving forward with eight other districts, including Austin.
Even though the 2014-15 state budget allocates nearly $21 billion to TxDOT, money is tight at the agency. The agency said its needs $4 billion a year just to keep up with growing highway maintenance needs. In the last special legislative session this year, state lawmakers were only able to work out a plan for $1.2 billion a year - an amount voters will have to decide whether to give final approval to in next year's November election.
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