The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of our daily lives – our roads, bridges, airports, and transit systems, to our water systems, electric grid, and more. America’s infrastructure was already facing a massive maintenance backlog before the pandemic hit – ASCE’s latest Infrastructure Report Card gave the nation’s 16 infrastructure categories a cumulative grade of D+.
State and local governments have to now reprioritize their spending due to drastically reduced revenues, as well as costs associated with combating the current global pandemic. In fact, the National Governors Association has requested $500 billion in fiscal support for states to support budgetary shortfalls as a result of the pandemic. As Americans continue to abide by stay-at-home orders, states and localities are seeing a reduction in gas tax receipts, while water utilities are seeing lost revenue as they continue to waive fees for households unable to complete payment - combined with decreased commercial usage.
At a time when interest rates are low and traffic is light – ideal scenarios for fast-tracking construction – capital projects and critical maintenance work is being put on hold due to dramatic budget shortfalls.
Currently, state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) are estimated to lose an average of 30% of transportation revenues over the next 18 months. States like Washington have experienced a 45% drop in traffic, along with 75% decreases in ferry and transit ridership. Pennsylvania is expecting to see an estimated loss of $800-$900 million in the next coming months due to lack of certain licensing and registration fees and lower gas and diesel tax. Meanwhile, the American Public Transportation Association has requested another $24 billion to cover operational costs for the nation’s hard-hit transit agencies.
In addition to relief for our state DOTs, ASCE is also urging Congress to support water utilities through relief that covers costs associated with moratoriums on water service disconnections, or reconnections of delinquent accounts, as well as grant or low interest loan funding to help support utility operations at a time when revenues are dropping dramatically.
Providing these forms of near-term relief to state and local governments will help ensure our infrastructure remains safe, reliable, and ready for us to resume our pre-pandemic routines. Please contact your Members of Congress today and urge them to include infrastructure relief in any future stimulus package.
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