The Federal Highway Administration issued its latest notice Feb. 2 to distribute another $2.4 billion in obligation authority for federal-aid highway programs.
That allows state DOTs to access part of their authorized funds from the Oct. 1 start of the 2018 fiscal year through Feb. 8, when the last congressional stopgap funding measure was scheduled to expire.
But the partial-year funding under the notice continues at 2017 levels since Congress had not yet passed a full-year appropriations bill for fiscal 2018. In its 2015, five-year highway program authorization, Congress authorized moderate annual increases that would let DOTs nationwide share about $1 billion more once lawmakers approve 2018 appropriations.
Lawmakers have since passed a two-year budget agreement to set higher spending limits on government programs, but which will require appropriators to act on the details. So they also voted to extend funding at 2017 levels until March 23. Once Congress passes a final spending bill, state DOTs will presumably be able to access all their scheduled 2018 highway appropriations once the FHWA issues another distribution notice.
The FHWA’s previous short-term funding notice, which it issued Jan. 5 to distribute funding through Jan. 19, had provided state DOTs and other recipients with nearly $13.068 billion of total highway project obligation authority since Oct. 1.
Its Feb. 2 notice provides them access to almost $15.423 billion.
State DOT officials have warned that the series of stopgap funding bills over the past four months has created a start-stop flow of federal highway funds that is delaying states from awarding bids for some planned projects.
Along with its latest notice, the FHWA released a table showing how much federal-aid highway funding each state can now obligate to pay for projects.