Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on June 17 said a federal highway account that helps states pay for roadway projects is still projected to run out of money by late August, threatening many large-scale construction projects.
Blogging on the department’s website, the secretary said that a shortfall of the Highway Trust Fund would mean “we could start bouncing checks for roadwork before our kids go back to school.”
“If you work in road construction and maintenance, the situation is worse than unrepaired pavement or road projects … it means jobs in jeopardy,” Foxx wrote. “In fact, several states are already postponing road contracts because they cannot count on a reliable funding source.”
Foxx noted that the Obama administration’s $302 billion, four-year transportation policy plan relies on savings from certain changes to the tax code to finance highway projects. The administration's proposal, the Grow America Act, was introduced as a bill in the House last week by the leaders of the Highways and Transit subcommittee. The bill is not expected to advance this year.
But Foxx's blog comes as Senate tax policy writers are set to unveil a proposal to shore up the trust fund, possibly through a transfer of funds from the Treasury, according to a senior aide. The Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction on tax policy, is scheduled to meet June 18 at 10 a.m. EDT.
Senate Democratic leaders oppose the House Republicans’ plan of using savings from eliminating most Saturday mail to finance a one-year extension of the trust fund.
The highway account of the Highway Trust Fund is likely to dip below the critical $4 billion funding level as soon as July, according to DOT’s latest projections. State transportation departments are reimbursed millions of dollars daily from the Highway Trust Fund. State officials have said if the trust fund falls short on cash, their ability to advance road, rail and transit projects would be impeded.