Viewpoint: COVID-19 – Change, problems and opportunities

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By Mark Buckshon

North Carolina Construction News staff writer

COVID-19 has dominated (and redefined) our lives in the past couple of months, forcing many of us into a sudden rethinking of behaviors and business practices that once were normal, and now may be considered unsafe. Everyone has adapted to the new social distancing environment in different ways; some resisting the regulation of our lives, while others appreciate that failing to keep a safe distance can be costly for vulnerable friends and family members.

The pandemic has both created critical challenges for North Carolina’s construction industry, along with opportunities. Notably, while construction hasn’t escaped the virus, even in places which have imposed strict lock-down orders, much work has been deemed “essential” and — when lock-downs are lifted — the industry as a whole is getting the all-clear faster than most sectors.

We will see if the state and federal governments can finally achieve some degree of cooperation for economy-saving major infrastructure projects. There is much talk about the value of solid infrastructure spending, but of course the political environment is as polarized as ever and it is unclear how and when the logjam for effective decision-making can be broken.

At the state level, clearly there will need to be challenging political decisions on how to overcome the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)’s $2 billion gas tax shortfall because of the lack of movement during the pandemic. One thing is clear, relevant associations are doing their work effectively even if they cannot hold their usual conferences and events, and staff and volunteers must work remotely.

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