Although the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced last week that the Highway Trust Fund will not be exhausted until mid-2016, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is warning lawmakers not to get complacent about fixing the fund.
The $8 billion that Congress transferred to the trust fund in July was expected to keep it solvent until December. New DOT projections, though, show the money lasting until June.
But Foxx cautions in a blog post that the trust fund remains in dire condition and that congressional action on transportation funding is still needed by late October.
The trust fund has two accounts: the highway account, which supports projects for the interstate system and other roads, and the transit account, which supports mass transit projects across the country.
Lawmakers must re-authorize transportation programs by Oct. 29. If they fail to do so, the trust fund will no longer be able to reimburse states for new obligations. In November, DOT says, the highway account balance will fall below $4 billion, possibly requiring delays in all reimbursements to state governments.
Lawmakers have passed 34 short-term extensions of transportation funding in six years. They should not be aiming for Number 35. Instead, Congress should work towards finding a stable long-term funding source for transportation investments.