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Federal Funds For Transportation Projects Could Dry Up, Says Foxx

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More states will have to figure out ways to raise transportation funding like Virginia has if federal funds dry up.
Cliff Owen/AP
More states will have to figure out ways to raise transportation funding like Virginia has if federal funds dry up.

Key transportation projects that rely on federal funding could soon see that money dry up. That's the warning U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx sent Wednesday.

In a letter to every state department of transportation, Secretary Foxx says the fund for roads, bridges and transit systems will face a shortfall by the end of summer, probably in August, unless Congress acts to replenish it.

He also stated this position in testimony before the Senate Transportation Committee.

"We will start to see the effects of the Highway Trust Fund's insolvency before August," Foxx said. "June and July is prime time for state DOTs to start letting contracts, and facing the kind of uncertainty that is ahead of us, many of those contracts will not be signed, which will mean work will not go forward. In some cases projects will be slowed down."

What this means for states is they will face difficulty if not the impossibility of planning construction or maintenance without the assurance federal funds will be there.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne says any slowdown in funding will harm the Commonwealth.

"Every region in the Commonwealth of Virginia has projects that have federal money on it," Layne says.

Foxx's letter comes a day after the Congressional Budget Office presented some choices for lawmakers to deal with the funding crisis. One would be to reduce funding on roadways by 30 percent and on transit by 65 percent. Another would be to raise the gas tax to pay for the transportation needs, an idea with little support on Capitol Hill.

In this election year Congress is not expected to approve a long-term transportation funding solution, but may vote to keep the highway trust fund afloat — until the next time it threatens insolvency again.

Letter for Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to state departments of transportation

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