USDOT warns Georgia of damaging cuts to highway funding

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APRIL 16, 2014 ATLANTA U.S. Transportation Sect. Anthony Foxx gives remarks as Mayor Reed and other officials listen. KENT D. JOHNSON/KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx notified Georgia transportation officials on Tuesday that the federal government won’t be able to meet its financial obligations to states starting Aug. 1.

The current transportation funding act, known as MAP-21, expires July 31. But Congress has been unable to compromise on a long-term solution.

As a result, the Highway Trust Fund which is used to bankroll about half of Georgia’s road and bridge projects will be insolvent by early September. The mass transit account also will be insolvent by early October (MARTA gets about $100 million a year in formula grants from the USDOT).

APRIL 16, 2014 ATLANTA  U.S. Transportation Sect. Anthony Foxx gives remarks as Mayor Reed and other officials listen. KENT D. JOHNSON/KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

APRIL 16, 2014 ATLANTA U.S. Transportation Sect. Anthony Foxx gives remarks as Mayor Reed and other officials listen. KENT D. JOHNSON/KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

However, in August, the highway account is anticipated to dip below the $4 billion threshold, triggering cash management procedures and leading to delayed reimbursements to the states.

 

State and regional transportation planners have said they would like to see a long-term transportation bill authorizing funding for six years. A more likely scenario is a short-term extension until December to allow for more negotiations, said Jane Hayse, who directs the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Center for Livable Communities.

“We are anxiously awaiting to see what Congress is going to do over the next few weeks or so,” Hayse told regional leaders at an ARC committee meeting last week.

A two-month extension that passed at the end of May was the 13th in a series of short-term extensions of transportation funding authority since 2009.

About 100 projects totaling $447 million are on hold in Georgia this year due to the federal funding uncertainty.

 

“Congress’s failure to pass a long-term bill is of great concern to all of us who are engaged in the work of building and maintaining our Nation’s transportation infrastructure,” wrote Secretary Foxx. “Careening from self-inflicted crisis to self-inflicted crisis undermines our system.  We need Congress to break the cycle of short term extensions; we need a long-term bill with significant growth.”

The full letter is at transportation.gov.


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