Caltrans’ acting director Malcolm Dougherty this week sent a letter to California’s congressional delegation, urging them to reauthorize transportation funding before the end of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 30, or the state would face shutting down thousands of local transportation projects valued at $23 billion.

The current surface transportation legislation, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), expired in 2009. Congress has extended the act seven times. The federal government currently provides about $3.4 billion per year for transportation projects across the state, according to Caltrans.

“Thousands of active state and local projects valued at $23 billion would grind to a halt within weeks as California’s primary state transportation account would be drained to pay $8 billion in unliquidated obligations,” wrote Dougherty. “The negative economic impact due to lost jobs and disrupted commerce would be significant.”