Despite strong industry advocacy efforts and recent actions taken both in the House and Senate, Congress is unable to reauthorize our federal surface transportation programs before the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act expires on September 30, 2020.
Congress’ inability to meet this deadline creates uncertainty, leading to project delays, and a subpar transportation system. COVID-19 has further complicated this situation as pandemic-related reductions in federal and state transportation revenues remain constant.
Therefore, in order to keep projects moving forward, ASCE through the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) and the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition has joined the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to urge Congress to offer legislation before September 30 that would provide:
- A turn-key, one-year extension of the current surface transportation law with increased investment levels. A year-long extension with increased investment would provide the stability needed to enable the planning, letting, and building of projects through the 2021 construction season and provide more certainty for government entities and private firms. Furthermore, this extension should be “turn-key,” meaning that it avoids the inclusion of new policies and programs that would delay the distribution of federal funding.
- Federal funding for state departments of transportation (DOT) and public transit agencies—$37 billion and $32 billion. State DOTs and public transit agencies are continuing to face severe losses in transportation revenues due to state and local stay-at-home orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many state DOTs and public transit agencies have imposed furloughs, while delaying or cancelling more than $8 billion in surface transportation projects. Providing the combined $69 billion in emergency federal funding for state DOTs and public transit agencies will forestall public and private sector job losses and prevent further disruptions to projects that provide long-term benefits to the economy.
- The solvency of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Prior to COVID-19, the revenue from this user fees was estimated to fall approximately $195 billion short of supporting even current funding levels for surface transportation programs over the next 10 years. The stay-at-home orders also reduced revenue for the HTF, further exacerbating the impending cash shortfall. The HTF’s shortfall must be addressed for the duration of a year-long extension.
ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card graded our nation’s roads a “D,” bridges a “C+” and, and transit a “D-.” These subpar grades are a result of failing to reauthorize federal programs in a timely manner, poor investment, and not providing a long-term revenue solution to fix the HTF. While ASCE calls on timely and regular reauthorizations, failure to approve a one-year FAST Act extension with increased funding will only exacerbate this dire situation.
Now is the time for action. Please take this opportunity to contact your Member of Congress and Senators and urge them for a year-long extension that includes relief for state DOTs, transit agencies, and HTF solvency.