Mississippi prepares to halt road construction over funding issu - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Mississippi prepares to halt road construction over funding issue

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JACKSON, Miss. (KNOE 8 News & MDOT) - Mississippi is waiting to see whether Congress will be able to cover a looming funding gap in the federal Highway Trust Fund.

· In January, the USDOT began posting Highway Trust Fund tickers online, http://www.transportation.gov/highway-trust-fund-ticker, and updating them monthly to allow the public to watch our transportation dollars dwindle towards zero.

In April, USDOT raised awareness about this problem by taking a bus tour through eight states, including Mississippi, http://www.transportation.gov/grow-america/bus-tour.In May, the USDOT sent Congress the GROW AMERICA Act, our four-year, $302 billion transportation funding proposal, http://www.transportation.gov/grow-america.In June, MDOT issued a press release on the need for increased funding for deteriorating roadways and bridges in Mississippi, http://ow.ly/yMwuH. This week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx issued a letter to all state departments of transportation detailing how the Federal Highway Administration will implement payments for road projects if the funding issues are not addressed.

According to the letter, if a new funding plan is not put in place by Congress, states will see a 28 percent drop in transportation funding. Foxx is urging Congress to come up with a solution to fund the Highway Trust Fund before August 1. After that date, Foxx said there will be a change in the way states are paid for federal road projects.

Under the current process, states pay for transportation projects upfront and then submit invoices to the Federal Highway Administration which reimburses the states out of the Highway Trust Fund. Secretary Foxx said after August 1, instead of reimbursing states, funding will be paid to the states based on a percentage of whatever is left in the Highway Trust Fund. This change in the reimbursement plan will reduce the amount of money states have to fix highways and bridges.

MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath has issued a statement on the effect of the Highway Trust Fund insolvency to Mississippi’s transportation infrastructure.

“The Congressional Budget Office has projected revenues in the Highway Trust Fund will not meet current spending obligations as early as this month. MDOT’s highway and bridge project backlog will continue to grow with the loss of these federal funds. In the event Congress does not add revenue to the Highway Trust Fund, it will be necessary to pull all state-funded maintenance projects open for bid in July. This is something our state can’t afford. We are hopeful the Highway Trust Fund will be repaired to ensure MDOT may immediately continue with necessary transportation system preservation and construction projects.”

 

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