By Melanie Condon

The summer months have historically signified the peak season for the transportation world as cone zones, cranes, hard hats, concrete and asphalt trucks and the rest of the construction army was deployed to build, maintain and repair the nation's highway infrastructure.

This year, however, instead of state departments of transportation gearing up for the heavy construction workload, they are halting certain projects and nervously monitoring if the federal government will be able to reimburse them for projects already planned. 

In fact, in April the state of Arkansas announced they were going to hold back 10 planned projects, totaling $60 million, because they were not confident they would be reimbursed by the federal government after completion of the projects. And just recently the state of Kentucky announced they delayed close to $185 million in road projects until the state was certain it would be reimbursed for the projects from the federal government.

The issue at hand is the precarious state of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), which is, by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s own admission, facing the possibility of dropping below the threshold of certainty for state reimbursements by August.

If this occurs, the federal government will have to implement cash management procedures, which would essentially pause or halt payments to states for previously approved projects such as bridge construction or maintenance and road repairs.

NCSL, along with the six other state and local government associations (known collectively as the “Big 7”) is urging Congress to ensure the continued solvency of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), and commit to passing a long-term bill that would fund surface transportation programs as part of a multi-year reauthorization of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

To highlight the importance of these issues to states, NCSL is bringing a bi-partisan group of state legislators to Washington D.C. on July 10 for a full day of meetings on Capitol Hill and a White House briefing on the administration’s plan for funding and financing surface transportation programs.

These transportation leaders in their states will be urging the federal government to take action on the pressing insolvency issues that have very real ramifications to states’ infrastructure and economies.  NCSL continues to ensure that the federal government hears the importance of these issues to the states and will not let states be a casualty of federal inaction.

Melanie Condon is a policy specialist with NCSL's Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee.


Posted in: NCSL, Public Policy
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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.


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