October 2, 2013 9:00 AM, EDT

Highway Programs Continue Despite Government Shutdown

Sam Hodgson/Bloomberg News

Highway construction and safety programs will remain operational despite most federal government functions shutting down Oct. 1 after legislators failed to agree on a measure to fund the government, the Department of Transportation said.

DOT told all 1,102 employees of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and 2,914 employees of the Federal Highway Administration before the shutdown that they would have to come to work. Funding for those agencies comes from the Highway Trust Fund, which means they don’t depend on the appropriation process in Congress.

Roadside truck inspections, for example, will continue because FMCSA money supports the state law enforcement agencies conducting them.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said in a memo to employees before the shutdown that she did not expect anyone in the agency to be furloughed. But that could change if the shutdown persists, the agency said.

“Once available liquidating cash is exhausted to support continuing operations, an agency shutdown may need to be implemented,” FMCSA said. “For a brief funding lapse, this is not anticipated.”

Likewise, most highway projects involving federal money will also be spared because financing is from the trust fund. The exception is for projects such as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants funded by Congress.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a Sept. 25 memo to employees that DOT had “determined which employees would continue to report to work in the event of a lapse in funding and which employees would be placed on furlough.

“Some employees will be excepted because their work directly addresses emergency circumstances,” Foxx’s memo said, “while others will not be subject to furlough because their positions are not supported by annual appropriations, and even these categories may change based on the length of the potential shutdown.”

Airport operations around the country will continue as usual because, like highways, airports are supported with trust fund money.

However, the Federal Railroad Administration has no trust fund, so, that agency has furloughed employees.