Football season has unofficially launched, and hopefully from now on punts will remain on the field and outside of Congress. While Congress is back home for summer recess, many states are expressing their opinions about the lack of federal funding as more infrastructure needs rise to the surface.
In Nebraska, Senator Deb Fischer and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx hosted an event focused on transportation projects in the states. The secretary expressed encouragement that the Senate passed a long-term funding bill at the end of July, while still pressed for the need of more funding. In order to ensure that state projects continue, Nebraska’s Department of Roads established a yearlong agreement with the Federal Highway Administration that “will allow Nebraska to initiate maintenance and rehabilitation projects more easily throughout the 100,000 miles of roads and 15,500 bridges that cross the state.”
Nebraska isn’t the only state expressing frustration with of the uncertainty of federal transportation funding. Pennsylvania, the state with the highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the country, is likewise struggling to invest in much-needed projects. Wyoming is unable to carry out many of their projects without more federal funds, as they receive 66 percent of their capital program budget from the federal government. The Mississippi Bridge is in need of upgrades, but the project is sitting on the sidelines because while Illinois is ready to start the project, Missouri cannot contribute its half of the funds. Bloomberg View also published an editorial this week pleading Congress to pass a long-term bill with reliable funding, and endorses raising the federal gas tax to match inflation.
While dwindling federal transportation funding stalls progress on state highway projects, highways are not the only category of infrastructure that needs federal funds. In Tennessee, the replacement lock for the Chickamauga Dam is in limbo because it has not been able to get funding fast enough to get the project completed. This is just one of many examples of the importance of the federal role in infrastructure investment.