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State DOT in jeopardy of losing federal funding

Posted July 21, 2008
Updated October 18, 2011

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— The North Carolina Department of Transportation could lose at least a third of its federal funding because of record-high gasoline prices.

The primary funding source for the Federal Highway Trust Fund is a federal gasoline tax. But as motorists cut back on their driving, the federal government is losing about $3.2 billion that should go toward road construction projects.

In North Carolina, DOT officials say the agency could lose around $300 million, less than 10 percent of the DOT's $4 billion budget. About 10,000 industry jobs could be lost statewide.

Nationwide, transportation experts say at least 380,000 jobs and hundreds of construction projects are in jeopardy across the country if Congress fails to rescue the Federal Highway Trust Fund.

"What will happen, in the short-term, is we'll be delaying projects," said Calvin Leggett director of the state DOT's program development. "Ultimately, there will be some that just won't happen."

North Carolina's DOT had planned for that money to be there. State officials admit they are surprised Congress has not address the issue, even though there were plenty of opportunities to do so.

"Obviously, Congress has not seen it as being an immediate issue as we feel it is," Leggett said.

The DOT has not yet gone over which projects might hit a roadblock, he said.

"Road building is a multi-year planning and design process, and making adjustments in short months is difficult," Leggett said.

Congress has until the end of September to rescue America's transportation account. A letter is circulating through the Senate to take immediate action. Among the 60-plus signatures is Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

There has also been discussion in Washington to raise the federal gasoline tax, among several other options, to fund the account.

132 Comments

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  • pbjbeach Jul 28, 2008

    IF THE NCDOT WOULD JUST SIMPLY GO BACK TO THE WAY THAT THE WORK ON OUR STATE ROAD SYSTEM WAS DONE AN MAINTAINED 15 - 20 YEARS AGO AN QUIT PAYING TO HAVE WORK DONE TWO AN THREE TIMES BY THE SAME CONTRACTORS AN NOT ALLOWING THE STATE HIGHWAY INSPECTOR TO PERFORM THEIR JOBS ALL IN THE NAME OF POLITICAL DEREGULATION WE WOULDN'T BE HAVING THESE KINDS OF HIGHWAY FUNDING PROBLEMS THANK YOU

  • Bob Sidel Jul 23, 2008

    "I love the 64 bypass, but that is another place the pavement is crumbling, right where you get on from the outer beltline."

    That wasnt part of the bypass construction

  • familyfour Jul 22, 2008

    my point about the dinky backroads is that funding is being issued for work not done...

  • Tired_of_LIBERALS Jul 22, 2008

    Actually, there is nothing wrong with dinky little back roads - in the right place. There is also nothing wrong with dirt roads - in the right place. I don't understand the desire to pave the whole planet!

  • whatusay Jul 22, 2008

    If people are driving less, buying less gas, and there are less vehicles on the roads, there should not be such a great urgency to repair them. They should not need repair if people are not on them. But, if we spent $18,000,000,000 on roads last year we should spend $21,000,000,000 this year. We always have to spend more each year to justify the hundreds of additional employees. More is not always better.

  • familyfour Jul 22, 2008

    If the money is not being properly managed, it doesn't matter how much is there, it will NEVER be enough.

    ...And my dinky little back road will always be dinky. I'm surprised it ever got paved to start with.

  • gpcherokee Jul 22, 2008

    I lost on Jeopardy, baby!

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Jul 22, 2008

    I love the 64 bypass, but that is another place the pavement is crumbling, right where you get on from the outer beltline.

    There are certainly problems in state government and DOT, but to assume that it is beyond hope simply because it is gov't is not any kind of solution. The vast majority of people want to do a good job wherever they work.

    I think that the tactics used to try to keep cost down destroy quality and end up costing more. Contractors with a history of good work should get some credit in their bids for contracts. That's how each us would handle our own finances. If a company we have a good history with charges a little more, we'll go with them anyway. And if a good company cost a lot more than a bad company, we'll go with the good company.

  • Bendal1 Jul 22, 2008

    "How about the I-40 flub! That was what a 40 million dollar mistake?"

    One mistake that was heavily covered by the media, while ignoring all the projects that were built without any problems whatsoever, such as the extension of I-540 from US 1 to the US 64 Bypass, the US 64 Bypass itself, the Clayton Bypass, and the widening of NC 55. Add those together and you're looking at close to a billion dollars' worth of highway construction, but everyone focuses on $40 million dollars of rework.

    Do you strain at gnats, too?

  • Bendal1 Jul 22, 2008

    Well, since everyone has decided DOT has plenty of money available to do what needs to be done, when roads get congested and bridges get closed due to lack of funds for them, I don't want to see any of you complaining about it.

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