AASHTO Journal, 6 June 2014
Congress needs to make sure the Highway Trust Fund stays solvent in the short term while members work on a long-term surface transportation bill to provide stability for state transportation departments, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Board of Directors.
The AASHTO Board of Directors last week passed a resolution that calls upon Congress to ensure the solvency of the nation’s Highway Trust Fund this summer, before the Federal Highway Administration is forced to begin delaying reimbursements to states for transportation work underway. The resolution was passed at the association’s annual Spring Meeting, held this year in Louisville, Kentucky.
“We encourage Congress to address the short-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, but there also are long-term funding and policy issues that need addressed,” said Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary and AASHTO President Mike Hancock. “AASHTO and its member states remain committed to working with Congress on a long-term reauthorization bill.”
Current USDOT forecasts anticipate delays to reimbursements to states as early as July, when most states will be in the middle of active summer maintenance and construction work.
The resolution points out that nearly 50 percent of the funding for highway construction projects is derived from the Federal-aid Highway Program; and that state DOTs rely on a daily reimbursement from FHWA for costs already incurred on federally funded highway projects. Delaying payments affects states’ ability to continue work and could potentially affect whether states begin new projects.
Some state DOTs have already made adjustments for current and upcoming projects. In April, Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director and former AASHTO President Mike Lewis and Vermont Agency of Transportation Deputy Secretary Sue Minter testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on behalf of their states, warning Congress of inaction regarding the Highway Trust Fund (see related AASHTO Journal story here). Further information is available in this video of Lewis talking about the effects of the looming Highway Trust Fund crisis that is, two months after that testimony, now taking shape.
A complete copy of the resolution can be found here. Additional information on the Highway Trust Fund and the potential effects of not funding transportation infrastructure can be found at invest.transportation.org.
See additional AASHTO Spring Meeting coverage in this edition of the AASHTO Journal and a Transportation TV newscast of the meeting at TransportationTV.org.