With the Highway Trust Fund projected to become insolvent this year, the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution, cosponsored by Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, calling on Congress to, “Develop a shared, long-term vision for surface transportation.” Tsutsui cosponsored the resolution while attending the NLGA conference in the nation’s capital last week.
Without adequate funding, the deterioration of roads, bridges and other systems will negatively impact Hawaii’s quality of life in the way of safety, tourism and business in general.
“Hawaii receives approximately $160 million in federal highway funds each year,” Lt. Gov. Tsutsui said. “The money is used to fund some of the state’s biggest highway projects, which are paid with 80 percent federal and 20 percent state funds. Recent examples include, but are not limited to, the ongoing H-1 Freeway Rehabilitation Project, the Vineyard Boulevard Resurfacing Project, the Lahaina Bypass Road, Keaau-Pahoa Shoulder Lane Conversion and the Lihue Mill Bridge Project.”
Lieutenant governors engaged in a conversation on transportation funding at the NLGA Federal-State Relations Meeting in Washington, D.C., through a panel entitled: “How Will States Fund Road Projects – Starting this Summer?” Since federal law provides that the Highway Trust Fund cannot run a negative balance, it’s reported the U.S. Department of Transportation may begin taking special actions this summer, including substantially delaying transportation payments to states or paying a significantly reduced share of such payments.
Testimony offered at NLGA by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials indicates that unless Congress either increases Highway Trust Fund revenues or provides additional General Fund support, states will be unable to commit virtually any new federal funds to surface transportation projects starting next fiscal year. This could result in states delaying much-needed projects this upcoming construction season due to the long-term funding needs of larger, ongoing projects.