The Highway Trust Fund is in trouble again. Last September, Congress rescued the fund’s highway account with an $8-billion injection. Now a new shortfall, estimated at $5 billion to $7 billion, is looming in August. The picture is even darker for 2010, when an additional $8 billion to $10 billion will be needed. The search is on for more revenue, but the White House is insisting that any new money for the trust fund must be offset, presumably by spending cuts or a revenue-raising mechanism.
“It’s a serious problem,” says Jay Hansen, National Asphalt Pavement Association vice president for government affairs. If nothing is done, the Federal Highway Administration will have to slow down its funding disbursements to state departments of transportation. That could put roadbuilding contractors in a cash squeeze while they wait for FHWA to release the money. “It just kind of ripples through the system,” says Hansen.