The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) this week sent a letter to Congress requesting $50 billion in emergency assistance to state DOTs experiencing a dramatic decrease in revenues due to the nationwide response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“State DOTs are forecasting a significant reduction in state transportation revenues that will challenge their ability to maintain and operate our transportation system in a way that can support the COVID-19 response,” AASHTO Executive Director Jim Tymon said in a statement. “Some state DOTs are already furloughing workers due to funding shortfalls and more will be faced with the same difficult decision about projects and people, unless Congress takes action.”
AASHTO says that preliminary projections from state DOTs show at least a 30% decline in transportation revenues on average for the next 18 months. Therefore, the association is requesting that the nearly $50 billion be distributed to state DOTs via formula funding—a figure composed of $16.7 billion to cover revenue losses for the remainder of FY 2020 and $33.3 billion for FY 2021.
In addition to backstop funding, AASHTO is also concerned that current federal surface transportation authorization—the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act—will expire in just six months. AASHTO is requesting that Congress double the amount of federal surface transportation funding and reauthorize America’s highway and transit programs for at least another six years.
Just a few weeks ago, AASHTO requested that Congress provide $16.7 billion in supplemental federal transportation funding to backstop state revenue shortfalls expected due to COVID-19. Since then, Congress has passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included $114 billion dedicated to the transportation sector.