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NAM: Shutdown of federal transportation funding looming

The Washington Post (7/2, Halsey) reports that Congress will have little choice but to act on transportation funding when the members return from recess because “the consequences of doing nothing seem too extreme for all but the most dire obstructionists to endure.” The Post notes that Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent a second letter this week warning states of the impending federal Highway Trust Fund crisis. The Post also says that some states are already planning cutbacks in anticipation. The Post goes on to explain that there are plans in the House and Senate to extend funding past the November elections, although the House proposal has gone nowhere, and that a plan by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) was denounced by Republicans. Meanwhile, with respect to longer-term funding, the White House and key transportation leaders in Congress, notably Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), “say they are open to most of the options or some combination of several.”

CNN (7/2, Liberto, Sahadi) reports, “People will see it in traffic and they’ll see it in the condition of our roads,” Foxx said at a breakfast with media on Tuesday. “I think they’ll see it in our lack of authority to fix our bridges and to put new capacity in place that this country needs.” CNN also notes that “there’s bipartisan support for improving transportation infrastructure,” but “lawmakers don’t agree on how much money is needed or where to find it.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer (7/2, Shesgreen) reports that this transportation funding crisis is “a stark example of Washington dysfunction” but differs from other issues because of broad support for a long-term funding solution and the potential for local, tangible impacts from the stalemate. The Enquirer notes that Foxx was warned that the Department of Transportation will have to reduce or delay payments to the states starting in August. Meanwhile, lawmakers have yet to come up with a funding plan that can please both Republicans and Democrats.

States Slow Down Road Projects Due To Federal Funding Uncertainty. The Chicago Tribune (7/2, Lu) reports that instead of ramping up during the summer peak of construction season, state transportation departments “are easing off the gas pedal as the federal Highway Trust Fund barrels toward insolvency sometime next month.” States have already delayed projects to avoid being stuck with bills they can’t pay and projects they can’t finish, because they receive between 14.9 percent and 58.9 percent of the transportation funding from the federal government. Tony Dorsey, a spokesman for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, said that if the Highway Trust Fund runs out of money, “some states will not be able to move forward with projects they had planned to build this year while others may not be able to pay contractors for work that has already been done.” The article details impacts in Arkansas, Rhode Island, and Missouri.

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