The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials signed on to an April 20 letter that renews calls for Congress to provide more flexibility for previously allocated COVID-19 relief funds.
[Above photo by the West Virginia DOT]
“State and local transportation capital budgets were hit especially hard by the [COVID-19] pandemic, as changes in travel patterns caused user-based revenue sources to dwindle,” the letter stressed.
“Many [transportation] projects were delayed or canceled,” it added. “However, current law caps states and localities at using a fraction of their ARP [American Rescue Plan] funding for highway, public transit, and other surface transportation projects.”
The letter supports a recent Senate bill that would amend the ARP to allow states and localities to use a greater portion of these resources for these critical improvements.
“That legislation has already passed the Senate once via a unanimous consent agreement, and an identical House version, H.R. 5735, has over 150 bipartisan co-sponsors,” the letter said. “The measure would not increase costs to the federal government or the deficit and does not mandate state or local governments change plans or priorities.”
Since July 2021, AASHTO has called upon Congress to provide more flexibility to states and localities to use Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds or CSLFRF – established by the $1.9 trillion ARP package – to provide fiscal support for an array of transportation projects.
AASHTO has also supported various industry-wide letters sent to Congress, as well as to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, calling for COVID-19 relief funding flexibility – especially as the cost of materials has spiked over the last 18 months due to inflation.