In a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, the State Asphalt Pavement Associations Inc. (SAPAs), collectively and individually, supported the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in their request for funds to stimulate the highway construction industry. State projections show drastic dips in transportation revenue as a result of a 50 percent vehicle traffic decline. In certain states, toll road traffic is down 67 percent. Specific impacts include individual state transportation revenue losses as high as 45 percent in the next 18 months.
“The highway system is one of the core values of our country, and we are behind in keeping up with the system’s needs,” said Larry E. Patrick, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Asphalt Pavement Association and SAPA Chairman. “Much like the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progressive Administration programs during the Great Depression, what better way is there to get people back to work than to stimulate the economy and take care of the investments America has made in our highways, interstates, and bridges?”
The construction season is also impacted by the need for Congress to reauthorize the FAST Act authorization before the Sept. 30, 2020, deadline, when the Act expires. The backlog of highway and bridge investment needs now totals nearly $800 billion. That’s why the SAPAs also support a multi-year transportation bill reauthorization in their letter.
Last month, the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) sent a similar letter to U.S. Senate and House leaders. In tandem, NAPA launched a grassroots effort, “Act Now to Secure and Grow America’s Highway Funding,” which has already compelled more than 1,900 industry leaders to formally ask their congressional representatives for immediate financial relief for state DOTs.
“NAPA supports the SAPAs in their request for this critical funding for our very essential industry,” said NAPA President & CEO Dr. Audrey Copeland. “Asphalt paving contractors, alongside state and local departments of transportation, are maintaining our roadways, ensuring the safety and health of our workforce, and serving the traveling public by facilitating the reliable delivery of goods.”
On May 12, 2020, House Democrats introduced the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act or the HEROES Act, which provides $15 billion for grants to support the ongoing work of state, tribal, and territorial departments of transportation and certain local governments to mitigate the effects of coronavirus, including the salaries of staff and other administrative expenses. The HEROES Act provides nearly the full amount of $16.7 billion requested by AASHTO for fiscal year 2020. NAPA will deliver the SAPA letter to the Congress and urge the House to approve the legislation when it comes up for a vote.