No Boost For Infrastructure Spending

December 12, 2016

While Flint, Michigan is finally getting some relief, the late evening funding bill passed by the Senate Friday night and signed by President Obama Saturday morning put another roadblock in the way of the $1 billion infrastructure boost many had hoped for.

This means state departments of transportation and transit agencies will not be able to tap into the scheduled funding hikes that were originally to begin October 1, under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act that Congress authorized and funded last year.

The AASHTO Journal writes that the delay into next calendar year allows states and transit agencies to access about 55 percent of the federal highway and transit funding they received in 2016. However, it also means states cannot tap those increases in highway and transit funds that Congress provided for fiscal 2017 in the FAST Act until well into the period when they plan their yearly project schedules.

However, the delay will allow the incoming Trump administration to weigh in on current-year budget issues after he assumes the presidency January 20. The T&I Democrats have warned that by delaying the increases into next spring and the start of the 2017 construction season, some infrastructure projects that state DOTs and transit agencies would want to begin next year could be delayed along with the economic benefit they would bring.