WASHINGTON, DC-Some controversy surrounds the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project, a 7.5-mile corridor including the design and construction of a new bridge and improvements to four interchanges. An independent research study just released warns that the union-only bridge replacement project labor agreement being considered could create serious problems, including around $150 million in additional costs and likely shortages of local labor.

Economist Armand J. Thieblot’s study examines a potential Wilson Bridge PLA according to five criteria issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1997. The study says that a Wilson Bridge PLA is inadvisable by all five guidelines.

“This study shows that placing a union-only PLA on the Wilson Bridge will balloon costs for local taxpayers while substituting workers from outside our area for highly qualified workers from our region,” says coalition chairman John McMahon, chairman of the Coalition for Open Competition on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. “The study was based on criteria developed by the Clinton administration, which has been supportive of union-only PLAs. It shows that a Wilson Bridge PLA would fail to satisfy any of those guidelines.”

According to the study, the project union-only PLA fails DOT’s criteria: ·It would likely increase the project cost in the neighborhood of $150 million.·It would increase the probability that contractors would have trouble finding suitable construction personnel and would have to import workers from outside the area.·There has been no documentation of any labor problems in this region, which would be remedied by a PLA.·PLAs have proven unable to prevent strikes or disruptions or to guarantee labor peace.

Maryland Foundation sponsored the study for Research and Economic Education, a foundation established by Maryland Business for Responsive Government. It sponsors research that identifies problems facing Maryland’s economic competitiveness, explores solutions to those problems and educates the state’s opinion leaders, policy makers, and the media of policy innovations employed successfully in other states and to suggest innovative solutions to Maryland’s economic problems.

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