- Some state transportation departments are holding off on awarding work until the federal shutdown, now in its fifth week, has ended, but it appears to be business as usual for the flow of infrastructure projects in most areas of the country, according to Engineering News-Record.
- States like Oklahoma and New Mexico are waiting to move forward with some new projects until federal funding becomes more certain. Even though the Federal Highway Administration issued a new order that would make its 2019 full funding obligation of $45.3 billion available, new legislation could reduce that amount. The U.S. DOT is affected by the shutdown, but federal highway financing to the states will continue to flow from the Highway Trust Fund.
- As February approaches, cold-weather state contractors are nearing the deadlines for them to be able to secure work for the busy spring and summer construction seasons. Industry experts, however, told ENR that the impact to contractors and vendors should be minimal for most projects because of how the trust fund works and because, in many states, federal funding accounts for only a small percentage of financing.
Lawmakers were engaged in talk about a shutdown well before its official start on Dec. 22, but that didn’t prevent major awards from moving forward.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced in early December that the DOT would spend $1.5 billion to help fund 91 road, rail, transit and port infrastructure projects in 49 states and Washington, D.C., through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program. This “down payment on this administration’s commitment to America’s infrastructure,” focuses on projects in rural communities that do not typically see big infrastructure investment.
Last month, The Dallas Area Rapid Transit board approved $872 million toward construction of a $1.1 billion, 26-mile light-rail line and awarded two major contracts for the project, which is counting on a $908 million U.S. DOT loan. DART awarded the $815 million design-build contract to Archer Western Herzog 4.0, a joint venture between Archer Western and Herzog Contracting Corp.
The Connecticut DOT also recently released plans for a five-year, $12.1 billion capital construction plan for fiscal years 2019 through 2023, an increase of almost $5 billion from the last such plan. The tolling aspect of the project, which could generate an extra $1 billion for transportation projects, could pose some problems for advocates of the initiative, according to the Hartford Business Journal, since it is a hot-button issue for some state lawmakers.