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Federal Funds for Virginia Bridges could Dry Up in 90 Days

The Virginia Department of Transportation is fighting to save federal funding critical to repairing the state's aging infrastructure.

Graphic by Thompson Wall. Data Source: Virginia Department of Transportation
Graphic by Thompson Wall. Data Source: Virginia Department of Transportation

If Congress fails to replenish the Highway Trust Fund before it becomes insolvent on Aug. 1, Virginia's federal funding for road and bridge projects could dry up in as little as 90 days.

The Virginia Department of Transportation, along with departments from Maryland and Washington, D.C., met with the Council of Governments Wednesday, July 9 to express concern about a lack of federal funding for infrastructure repairs.

The day before, Virginia state transportation secretary Aubrey Layne Jr. helped approve a motion to urge Congress to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, the New York Times reports.

Layne said the state receives about $1 billion from the federal government each year for transportation projects. At current levels, the state’s reserves would only be able to finance projects for about 90 more days.

The House is just 15 days away from its five-week summer recess, meaning if Congress fails to reach an agreement before then, federal highway funding will be cut by 28 percent on Aug. 1, according to the New York Times.

States could be forced to pay millions of dollars to restart work on these repairs after a potential delay. If the fund runs dry, 700,000 workers across the nation could be put out of work.

“There are severe penalties that are built into the agreements,” Layne said. “Vendors may have bought materials like concrete that they haven’t used, and we would be on the hook for that.”

Bridge Repair Needs

Virginia ranks 15th nationally for maintaining the overall cost-effectiveness of its highway system, according to data collected by Virginia Performs. In 2013, however, 26 percent of Virginia's bridges were classified as either functionally obsolete or structurally deficient.

Virginia ranks slightly higher than the national average (24 percent) and 31st nationally in overall bridge condition. Northern Virginia bridges fare far better than the national average with just 2.5 percent in need of repairs.

View an interactive table of Northern Virginia’s bridge conditions above or visit the VDOT website to see bridge and culvert conditions data for each district.

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