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Highway Projects Could Be Delayed If Federal Funds Fall Short

VPR/John Dillon
Gov. Peter Shumlin along with other state officials urged Congress to put more money into the federal Highway Trust Fund.

Officials with the Shumlin Administration are warning that some road projects scheduled for this summer may have to be scaled back if Congress does not replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund.

The state relies on the trust fund to match state dollars for transportation projects.

Deputy Transportation Secretary Sue Minter says this past winter was especially punishing for state highways. In addition to road repair, Minter says the state has $115 million of paving work planned for the summer. But Minter says Congress needs to make sure federal funds are available to the states.

“They are predicting now that in July the federal highway trust fund will become insolvent, so they will not be able to continue to reimburse us at the rate they currently do,” she said. “That is a very serious concern of ours. We are coming up with ideas that we may have to take forward if in fact by late June there is no change in Congress, we may have to hold back some of the projects that we know are needed and that we have planned to build.”

On Wednesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying a projected shortfall in the fund could threaten the state's progress in recovering from the Great Recession.

Shumlin says Vermont and other states are about to let contracts go out for work that need be done but they don't yet know if they'll have federal money to pay for them.

John worked for VPR in 2001-2021 as reporter and News Director. Previously, John was a staff writer for the Sunday Times Argus and the Sunday Rutland Herald, responsible for breaking stories and in-depth features on local issues. He has also served as Communications Director for the Vermont Health Care Authority and Bureau Chief for UPI in Montpelier.
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