Today the House Transportation Appropriations Committee approved $661 million in additional funding to cover a cash-flow issue that has caused layoffs for NC Department of Transportation contractors and closed down projects across the state. Rep. Ray Russell, who is a member of the committee, voted in favor of the measure.
“If this passes the full House and the Senate, the expectation is that NCDOT will be restored to normal operations,” Rep. Russell said. “We’ve gotten calls and emails from contractors in the district worried about layoffs as well as constituents upset because repaving projects and road improvements in their neighborhoods suddenly stopped.
“The lack of available funding at DOT was hurting people and hurting the local economy, so I hope the House will pass this quickly and the Senate will be on board. The state needs this badly.”
Funding problems for the NCDOT were the result of several factors. One issue was the fact that the department made extensive road repairs after hurricanes hit the state over the last several years. The Federal Emergency Management Administration has delayed reimbursement to the state for the work done and paid for by the state.
Another problem came for the department came when, at the urging of the legislature, NCDOT became more aggressive over the last few years in scheduling projects, causing a dip in reserve funding.
In addition, DOT is dealing with lawsuits from the now-repealed 1987 MAP Act that had allowed the department to tie up real estate sales and development for land it planned to use for new road projects, even if the projects were years or decades down the road. The courts struck down the act in 2017, ruling that is was the taking of land without just compensation. More than $360 million is set aside in the bill for legal costs.
The bill (House Bill 967) also provides an additional $301 million to NCDOT in the form of a loan for road improvements and other projects. The loan would be due to the general fund by 2025.