Does Exhausting the Highway Trust Fund Have a Silver Lining?

Avid highway opponents are less concerned about filling the Trust Fund gap, notwithstanding the effect on transit, and more on stopping road expansion. Widening of Colorado's I-25 and U.S. 26 in Oregon may halt without an agreement for new funds.

Despite the dire warning from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that "Congress (is) 'running out of time' on highway funding", there has been little movement to close the $20 billion funding gap between annual gas tax receipts and transportation spending.

The only "encouraging signs" according to Treasury Secretary Anthony Foxx was the "response of Republican leaders to President Obama's proposal to use $150 billion from closing corporate tax loopholes," wrote Keith Laing last month in The Hill [also posted here].

If Congress can not agree on new transportation funding, it "could spell doom for plans to add a third lane to I-25 in the Front Range, which would cost $1 billion or more," writes Raju Chebium of the Gannett Washington Bureau.

“Without having the federal government as a partner, major projects like that are probably not going to get completed or get underway,” said Kurt Morrison, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s federal liaison. 

The Colorado example is replicated throughout the U.S., though it's not just highway expansion projects that are threatened. "Oregon might delay or cancel "a large number" of highway projects if federal transportation money runs out as projected this summer, months earlier than previously estimated, state transportation officials say," writes Yuxing Zheng in The Oregonian.

Zheng points to "the widening of U.S. 26 from 185th Avenue to Cornelius Pass Road" as a road expansion project found in ODOT's 2015-18 statewide transportation improvement plan that is dependent on the infusion of federal highway dollars.

Pointing to DOT's Highway Trust Fund Ticker, he writes that the the Fund's highway account is projected to run out of money around August.

Full Story: Funding shortfall threatens highway expansion

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