$12B in Funding On Hold for Infrastructure

Nearly three months after President Biden signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law, federal transportation officials say much of their work is on hold due to the lack of signed appropriations bill from Congress

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The failure of Congress to approve a year-long transportation appropriations bill is putting funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in limbo for states. The Continuing Resolution or CR passed in December 2021 to keep the federal government operating does not allow full access to increased transportation funding in the $1.2 trillion BIL signed into law in November 2021.

Nearly $12 billion of additional FY 2022 highway and transit funding authorized under the BIL and implementation of other new BIL programs are on hold pending final congressional action on the appropriations bills.

“A significant portion of our highway, transit and safety programs are limited” by caps in the existing federal budget, said Carlos Monje Jr., the Transportation Department’s third-highest-ranking official. “Without congressional actions, we aren’t going to be able to move on many of the new programs funded in the bill.”

According to the Highway Users Alliance, without a full-year appropriations bill, states, local governments, and public transit agencies will not be able to access the BIL's roughly 20 percent funding increase for highway formula programs and more than 30 percent increase for public transit formula programs.

The Alliance sent a letter to Congress last week stating that "a delay of almost six months since the beginning of FY 2022 in providing the much-touted funding increases from the IIJA is wholly unacceptable and will cause significant project disruptions, reduced construction and manufacturing employment, and delays in delivering critical transportation infrastructure improvements – just when Americans were promised the most ambitious infrastructure package of our time.”

Bridge Collapse Intensifies Need

Further emphasis on this delay of crucial infrastructure funding was pushed to the forefront of the news las week as all eyes are on the Forbes Avenue Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh. 10 people have been reported as injured with four of them still hospitalized. The bridge that collapsed is used by an estimated 14,500 vehicles daily. President Joe Biden was set to speak in the state today regarding the supply chain and the BIL but his visit was shifted to the site of the bridge collapse.

When Biden visited the site, he vowed that he would be sending money to all bridges in the country stating “we're going to fix them all. Not a joke, this is going to be a gigantic change. There's 43,000 nationwide. And we're sending the money," Biden said, referring to the bridges in poor condition across the nation.

According to the ASCE there are more than 45,000 bridges in poor condition nationwide that carry millions of people per day and we are fortunate that no one was killed as a result of this bridge collapsing today.

The Highway Users Alliance, and the entire construction industry, knows the hard work and effort that Congress put into the BIL and are urging Congress to put these much needed infrastructure and safety investments envisioned in this bipartisan package to work as soon as possible. The Alliance asked  that if Congress is unable to finish the Transportation Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill by February 18, 2022, that Congress includes an anomaly to provide full obligation limitation levels in any future Continuing Resolution. They say this will fully honor the BIL’s funding levels for all transportation-related programs