Effects of Federal Shutdown Only Beginning to Show at Local and State Transportation Agencies

Effects of the partial shutdown of the federal government differ between state highway departments and local transit agencies. Some effects aren't yet apparent, but could be soon.
January 16, 2019, 6am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Construction work on a BART expansion through Milpitas.
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Daniel C. Vock reports on the effects of the partial shutdown of the federal government on transportation departments. Effects are apparent to "thousands of workers in transportation-related agencies, including the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Transit Administration, as well as federal safety inspectors," according to Vock. Also, "local transit agencies are being hit harder than state highway departments." The reason for that distinction has to do with the different ways projects and operations are funded at the local and state levels (locals mostly rely on grants and states rely on the Highway Trust Fund).

Although projects relying on federal funding have been "spared from major consequences" during the shutdown, that could change due to several threats that could worsen the longer the shutdown lasts. Vock lists the reasons for that looming threat, with more detail in the source article:

  • "Transit agencies won’t necessarily be able to start applying for grants to fund new construction projects once the shutdown is over." 
  • "Congress did not increase the amount of money it authorized to spend from the Highway Trust Fund," as planned in the 2015 FAST Act.
  • "States can’t immediately access their whole year’s worth of 2019 money from the Highway Trust Fund, as they could in other years."

For an example of the kinds of delays that could potentially become much more common very soon, Vock points to the example Oklahoma, where the state is delaying contracts on 45 highway projects worth about $137 million.

Full Story:
Published on Monday, January 14, 2019 in Governing
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