LITTLE ROCK, AR (News release) – The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department announced Thursday it has withdrawn nine construction projects with an estimated construction value of $120 million from the Agency’s upcoming June 9th bid opening due to continuing uncertainty of Federal-aid reimbursements available from the Federal Highway Trust Fund.
This action brings the total number of projects withdrawn from bid openings in Arkansas this year to 70, with an estimated construction value of $282 million. An attached list of projects and accompanying map provide additional details and an illustration of the location of all projects withdrawn to date in 2015. Since December 2014, AHTD has evaluated its scheduled Federally-funded projects prior to each bid opening to ensure sufficient State funds are available to fulfill commitments during anticipated reductions or delays in Federal reimbursements.
“Not only have we been forced to withdraw $282 million from our bid openings in 2015, but there are only 24 days remaining until obligation authority expires for MAP-21,” said AHTD Director Scott Bennett. “We operate on a cash basis and are not willing to take risks that would jeopardize the progress of any of our Federally-funded projects. To do otherwise is not being fiscally responsible.”
News of the latest highway construction projects withdrawn from consideration in the Arkansas 2015 bid opening schedule comes weeks before the fast-approaching May 31st deadline for reauthorization. If a solution is not found by the end of the month, states will lose their ability to obligate Federal funds for projects.
“The cost of doing nothing is too great,” added Bennett. “We can’t assume that since Congress has always fixed the Federal Highway Trust Fund at the last minute, they will do so again. Such a piecemeal approach to highway funding in America is not healthy for our Nation’s aging infrastructure.”
At risk in Arkansas for Federal Fiscal Year 2015 is 120 projects with an estimated construction value of $490 million. The absence of a long-term reauthorization bill places 130 projects at risk in Arkansas for Federal Fiscal Year 2016 with an estimated construction value of $520 million.
“Our only choice is to withdraw projects from bid openings,” stressed Bennett. “Congress must commit to reaching a long-term solution so we aren’t back at the crossroads again in a few months. The band-aid approach doesn’t work. It only covers up the problem. It does not solve the problem.”
Nation at a Crossroads
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has created a web-based infographic as part of a campaign that calls on Congress to “think big” and focus on long-term highway infrastructure needs rather than short-term fixes that “kick the funding can down the road” and will only result in this becoming a recurring issue.
The “Nation at a Crossroads” campaign urges policymakers to consider what is achievable in a long-term, sustainable source of funding to keep America on the right path. The campaign site features a “state impact” section that provides state-level information showing how Federal funding affects transportation investment.
Arkansas is among the states helping AASHTO tell the highway funding story by routinely updating its section of the site with the latest information as it becomes available. At risk in Arkansas includes $490 million in highway projects, $32 million in transit projects, an estimated 11,000 jobs, and 220 projects.
Click here to see the Arkansas infographic on the AASHTO website.