As the Treasury Dept. prepares guidance regarding the American Rescue Plan Act’s $360 billion in aid to state and local governments, construction, transportation, business and government groups want to see transportation infrastructure projects be specifically deemed eligible uses for those funds.
In a March 28 letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, nearly three-dozen organizations said they want “to ensure that transportation infrastructure is defined explicitly as a qualifying eligibility” for those funds under the American Rescue Plan statute."
The organizations said, “States and local transportation revenues were hit hard by COVID-19, with 49 states publicly reporting declines.”
They add that state departments of transportation estimate a funding shortfall of at least $18 billion. They note that last year, 18 states and 24 localities said they would delay or cancel transportation projects, totaling more than $12 billion.
The text of the American Rescue Plan measure, enacted on March 11, doesn’t specifically include or exclude transportation infrastructure projects—or other types of construction projects—for being funded by the $360 billion.
For the state and local aid, the legislation says that most of the funds are to be used to “mitigate the fiscal effects stemming from the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)."
The language is similar for the statute’s $10-billion Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. The law says that those funds should go for “making payments to states, territories and tribal governments to carry out critical capital projects directly enabling work, education and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease.”
In all, 35 groups, led by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, signed the letter.
Other signatories include the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Public Transportation Association, National League of Cities, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Counties.
Engineering and construction organizations who signed the letter include the American Society of Civil Engineers, Associated General Contractors of America and National Association of Home Builders.