- The Federal Highway Administration has finally revealed how it will potentially distribute $2.1 billion in unused, previously earmarked “orphan” funds, Engineering News-Record reported. The money was set aside for projects originally approved as many as 10 years ago.
- New York ($215.6 million) is in line for the biggest payday, followed by Georgia ($166 million), California ($126.1 million), Virginia ($122.7 million) and New Jersey ($116.9 million), ENR reported.
- The eligibility rules for the extra funding specify that the previously earmarked projects had to have been okayed or funded prior to Oct. 1, 2005, according to ENR. They also had to have less than 10% of their funds committed or expended as of Dec. 18, which is the spending bill's enactment date.
States that don’t meet the under-10% requirement should not lose heart, however, because the FHWA has announced that they also have another $3.3 billion for projects that have more than 10% of their money obligated and that are ineligible for a piece of the $2.1 billion.
However, there's a catch. The extra money must be spent on projects located within 50 miles of the original earmarked project. States also must apply for the money by Aug. 29 and commit the money by Sept. 2019.
The extra cash "is really a shot in the arm," Jay Hansen, National Asphalt Pavement Association executive vice president, told ENR. "On top of the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act, this is icing on the cake."
And a shot in the arm it is, especially for two cash-strapped states like California and New Jersey. Nearly 225 transportation projects in California are on the verge of being axed or severely delayed because low oil prices have resulted in a huge loss in gas tax revenue of $1.1 billion. And, you guessed it, gas tax revenue funds highway projects in that California.
New Jersey is also in a financial bind as far as its transportation funding is concerned. State officials have spent the new road and bridge repair reserve and have been debating a possible increase in the gas tax, like California, the source of highway funding in New Jersey.