AASHTO seeks federal funding to backstop expected transportation revenue shortfalls due to COVID-19

March 23, 2020

The letter also urges increased transportation investment to bolster economic recovery efforts

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is seeking Congressional support for the creation of a fiscal “backstop” for the transportation sector due to the economic impact of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

AASHTO sent a three-page letter to Congressional leaders on March 18. An excerpt of that letter reads as follows:

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer:

As the organization representing all 50 state departments of transportation (state DOTs), the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) urges Congress for an immediate and temporary nationwide waiver of federal truck weight restrictions, which will provide states with maximum flexibility and discretion to manage interstate transportation of emergency supplies in combating coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In addition, we request $16.7 billion in supplemental federal transportation funding to backstop state revenue shortfalls expected due to COVID-19.

The letter mentions that "In the near term, all modes of transportation—air, highway, transit, rail, and water—are anticipated to face steep declines in user fee and tax revenues due to COVID-19."

"The National Association of State Budget Officers estimated that states collected $111 billion in highway-related revenues including motor fuel taxes in FY 2019," the letter states. "Our initial projection estimates up to a 10% decline in highway-related revenues for FY 2020 and FY 2021. Therefore we request $16.7 billion in federal funding support to state DOTs through the Federal-aid Highway formula program at 100% federal share. This additional funding will allow states to continue to address their critical transportation needs while also allowing state resources to be directed to the most immediate public health needs to minimize the impact of COVID-19."

The letter also urges Congress to double down on transportation investment in order to reduce the highway and transit investment backlog and enable long-term economic recovery.

"Increased investment in transportation infrastructure has time and again proven to provide the optimal boost to the economy during a major crisis—and these benefits go well beyond short-term construction jobs maintained and supported," the letter states. "As you consider additional federal responses to expedite economic recovery, we urge Congress to direct robust resources to transportation, which will enable businesses to manage inventories and move goods more cheaply, access a variety of suppliers and markets for their products, and get employees reliably to work."