What happened: About 70 House of Representatives staffers packed a Capitol Hill briefing room Sept. 22 to hear ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black deliver an update on the state of funding nationwide for road and bridge projects as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) approaches its first anniversary. Both Republican and Democratic staffers attended the standing room-only event.
Why it matters: Congress didn’t approve a final appropriations bill for fiscal year 2021 until March 15, which delayed funding to state transportation departments for highway infrastructure. Dr. Black explained that while the IIJA’s 38 percent increase in federal aid highway funds from FY 2021 levels is available to obligate now, those investments result in construction activity over a multi-year period. “That increase is what states have to obligate or commit to projects,” she told staffers. As state transportation departments decide where the money should go, “the market impact takes time to make it to construction projects,” Dr. Black added.
Dr. Black noted that almost 23,000 projects received IIJA formula funding through July 2022, compared with roughly 31,000 through all of last year. Furthermore, states have obligated more than $37 billion in highway and bridge resources compared to $33 billion at this time in fiscal year 2021.
What’s next: Dr. Black told staffers that construction work on transportation projects funded by the IIJA will continue to ramp up next year. ARTBA will continue to share data on the new law’s impact leading up to the next surface transportation and aviation reauthorization bill debates.