The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) urged in a recent letter to Congressional leadership that state DOTs across the country require an immediate infusion of at least $37 billion to ensure the delivery of planned transportation projects.
"With millions of Americans following 'stay-at-home' orders, many state DOTs are facing severe losses in revenues, including dedicated user fee revenues on which state transportation programs heavily rely," the letter states. "Projections continue to show decreases in state motor fuel tax and toll receipts as nationwide vehicle traffic reduction bottomed out at about 50 percent during the height of the pandemic. As a result, the ability of state DOTs to carry out their core functions, including capital construction programs, is threatened."
The letter goes on to point out that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many state DOTs have imposed furloughs and delayed or cancelled $8.6 billion in critical transportation projects, putting at risk transportation construction jobs and the timely realization of benefits those projects bring to communities and commerce.
Back in April, AASHTO requested Congress provide $49.95 billion in funding for state DOTs to address estimated state transportation revenue losses over 18 months. The association says as updated data has become available over the last three months, AASHTO now estimates state transportation revenue losses of $37 billion over five years, with an estimated loss of $16 billion in FY 2020.
"This change in estimated loss is mainly due to a less severe outlook for FY 2021 from our members compared to earlier this year," the letter states. "That being said, the recovery period is now expected to be longer than originally anticipated."
AASHTO says the need for federal funding for state DOTs remains urgent. "It will prevent further disruptions to planned transportation projects and allow state DOT employees and transportation construction workers essential to planning and delivering these projects to remain on the job," the letter states. "The funding will also preserve the core capabilities of state DOTs that are critical to implement a robust, bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bill, which can serve as a platform for national economic recovery and growth."
AASHTO and 39 other transportation organizations also made a similar appeal to Congressional leaders in a separate letter.