TSRT interview with Jon Abrams

Better Texas Roads

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Jon Abrams recently was interviewed for the Member’s Perspective portion of The Texans for Safe Reliable Transportation newsletter. The interview is captioned below.

Jon Abrams is the President of J.D. Abrams, L.P., an Austin-based heavy civil construction company

TSRT: J.D. Abrams, L.P. has been in business in Texas since 1966; what is the company’s guiding philosophy that has helped you stay successful and competitive?

Jon Abrams: While we still pursue our “Day Job” – traditional Design/Bid/Build highway work. We have also diversified to other markets and project delivery systems.

TSRT: What recent shifts have you seen in transportation infrastructure projects?

JA: Transportation infrastructure projects have become more time sensitive by condensing schedules, which requires more resources. We see more large projects requiring teaming and joint ventures. There are less “green field” jobs as more and more existing urban arteries are widened and improved.

TSRT: How have road construction costs affected your business?

JA: The spike in construction material prices not only affected the profitability of contractors, it reduced available funds for other projects. You can guess what goes through an estimators mind when he contemplates fuel prices on a three year job.

TSRT: The “pass-through financing” used on the El Paso Spur 601 project is an innovative local funding source. How has it improved the construction timeline on this project and how do you see it being used in the future?

JA: The Spur 601 Design/Build and finance should allow this much-needed highway to be completed 10 to 15 years earlier than conventional methods. Spur 601, which will primarily service Fort Bliss, could not have happened if not for the partnership between the Army, TxDOT, City of El Paso, utilities companies, Abrams and others. Although pass-through financing was ideal for Spur 601, it is not always the best tool for project delivery. Nobody likes the “T” word but the reality of the funding situation is that without tolls many much-needed projects will not be built.

TSRT: What does the increase in public works spending mean for Texas transportation projects?

JA: Politicians have championed transportation issues of late, but the needs far out weigh existing funding mechanisms. The gap widens every year. We are nearing the point where we will not be able to maintain our infrastructure, much less improve it. Our highway system is the backbone of our economy and there must be a consensus to invest in our infrastructure.