On Tuesday,July 1, 2014, President Obama addressed a group of transportation advocates, including ASCE’s President Randy Over, P.E., F.ASCE, near Key Bridge in Washington, D.C. where he urged Congress to act to prevent insolvency of the federal highway program. “I haven’t heard a good reason for why they (Congress) haven’t acted,” Obama said. “It’s not like they’re busy with other stuff,” the president said in reference to the fact that the 113th Congress has passed fewer bills than any other in modern history. Next week, the House and Senate are scheduled to convene while tax committee leaders negotiate on a bipartisan solution to ensure highway funding for the remainder of the calendar year.
That same day, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced that beginning August 1, due to a lack of revenue in the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), reimbursements to states will be provided every two weeks instead of the current twice daily schedule. The USDOT announcement was made as the HTF nears insolvency. When the fund’s reserves dip below $4 billion, as is expected on August 1, the department will alter its cash management in a way that they view as most prudent and equitable for the states. “There is no good option when we’re talking about a trust fund that is running out of dollars,” Foxx told reporters Tuesday morning. USDOT cites that on average states will see a 28 percent drop in federal transportation dollars due to delayed payments. This piecemeal approach to reimbursements may put many current projects on hold, slow down the advertisement of new projects, or even cancel proposed projects.
The President and Administration officials have pledged to continue trying to help Congress identify a funding solution that can be signed into law by the August 1 deadline which is also when Congress adjourns for five weeks. The Society has been urging Congress for months to identify a long-term, sustainable solution to fund the nation’s surface transportation program and avoid a summer program catastrophe. The Society urges all members to tell their lawmakers to move quickly on a solution. Visit fixthetrustfund.org to learn more about how you can get involved