State departments of transportation are actively supporting their residents, businesses and local communities in response to the current COVID-19 outbreak. And in turn, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials is working to support state DOTs in those efforts.
AASHTO remains committed to responsibly following federal and state recommended workplace actions related to COVID-19. We hope you’ll find these resources useful.
Updated on May 13, 2020
AASHTO on April 6 sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging Congress to take two important steps related to surface transportation infrastructure in the next COVID-19 legislation: 1. Enact an immediate $49.95 billion in flexible federal funding to offset what we estimate will average at least a 30 percent loss in state transportation revenues in the next 18 months; 2. Pass a major transportation investment package in the form of surface transportation and water transportation reauthorization in order to boost years-long economic recovery that will be necessary once the national emergency subsides.
This letter followed previous appeals to Congressional leadership for emergency transportation funding for highways, transit, and airports, along with a nationwide trucking waiver to allow motor carriers maximum flexibility in restocking critical foodstuffs, consumer goods, and medical supplies.
- A“phase 4” COVID-19 relief bill proposed in the House of Representatives includes $15 billion for state DOTs.
- In a May 8 conference call, Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, said “the COVID19 pandemic is forcing many state & local governments to curtain capital expenditures for infrastructure projects for the foreseeable future.”
- During the month of April 2020, the AASHTO Committee on Transportation System Security & Resilience, through its Resilient and Sustainable Transportation Systems (RSTS) Technical Assistance Program, sponsored a series of weekly “virtual panels” focused on priority issues state DOTs are facing as they respond and recover from COVID-19 impacts. The panels feature updates from the Federal Highway Administration, Transportation Security Administration, and Department of Homeland Security regarding the latest transportation implications of the COVID-19 outbreak. Updates from other state and local transportation agencies from across the country are also provided with an opportunity for open discussion. Webinar recordings and materials can be accessed via the committee website.
- The Federal Transit Administration on May 4 posted a video message from U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who thanked front-line public transportation workers for their service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The USDOT unveiled a plan on April 29 to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air carriers participating in its Essential Air Service program.
- In response to COVID-19, the Federal Transit Administration said on April 23 it would extend the deadline for transit agencies to meet the requirements of the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP) regulation from July 20 to December 31.
- On April 22, the FAA announced it would temporarily adjust operating hours of approximately 100 airport control towers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- New monthly job loss data analysis released by the Associated General Contractors of America on April 17 foreshadows more layoffs amid project cancellations and state cutbacks in road projects.
- On April 14 the Federal Transit Administration issued a Safety Advisory with recommended actions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 among transit employees and passengers.
- The Federal Railroad Administration made more than $1 billion available to Amtrak on April 10 to support the national passenger railroad’s activities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States as well as help cover the cost of responding to the impacts of the virus pandemic on operations and business.
- On April 9 the AOPA warned in a letter to Congress that recent #COVID19 relief legislation may result in the insolvency of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, which supports the national air transportation system.
- On April 6, Johns Hopkins University released analysis of Twitter data that indicates mobility of Americans has declined by 52% since the COVID-19 outbreak.
- On April 3, the Federal Highway Administration issued a notice to state departments of transportation that the agency would allow states to permit commercial food trucks to operate and sell food, in accordance with state laws, in designated federally funded Interstate Highway rest areas.
- On April 2, the Federal Transit Administration released its plan for divvying up $25 billion in CARES Act relief funds; to be distributed to urban and rural transit providers that are recipients of federal formula funding.
- On March 18, AASHTO requested Congressional support for the creation of a fiscal “backstop” for the transportation sector due to the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, along with “an immediate and temporary” nationwide waiver of federal truck weight restriction. Specifically, that included a $16.7 billion request in federal funding support to state DOTs through the Federal-aid Highway formula program at 100 percent federal share, while supporting Amtrak’s emergency request for $978 million, which includes $200 million to help offset losses on state-supported routes:
- A second letter co-written with the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) and submitted to Congressional leadership on March 20 requested $10 billion in immediate support for the nation’s airports through the FAA’s existing Airport Improvement Program.
- Congress passed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act and President Trump sign it into law on March 27 that include billions in transportation aid for the transportation sector.
- The Federal Transit Administration extended the deadlines for several competitive grant programs for 30 days due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on March 27.
- The Department of Homeland Security pushed back the enforcement date of the REAL: ID act – which impacts state DOTs with driver licensing responsibilities – by 12 months to October 1, 2021.
- Indications are that motor vehicle travel is down in several states across the country (see below for detail). If this trend continues, AASHTO is concerned that this will adversely impact tolling and gas tax revenues. The Tax Foundation says road traffic is now down 38 percent across the United States and fewer people driving means fewer people buying gasoline, which will be detrimental to motor fuel excise tax revenue for federal and state governments.
- Diminished tax and tolling revenues could negatively impact a state DOT’s ability to make bond payments and meet budget requirements – which, could ultimately lead to the delay of construction and maintenance projects as we move into the spring construction season. For example, while the Nebraska DOT says freight traffic is staying at or near normal levels, there’s been a 29 percent decrease in statewide traffic volume – and the agency says that impacts on how its manages that state’s transportation system.
- Less gas tax revenues could also speed the depletion of the already troubled Highway Trust Fund.
AASHTO is closely monitoring the response by state departments of transportation to this crisis. The situation is fluid and changes can occur at any time.
- An April 15 story highlights data from INRIX that shows personal travel declined for the 4th consecutive week; dropping 48% nationally between April 4-10, compared to a typical travel week between Jan. 1 & Feb. 29: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2020-04-15/low-us-traffic-levels-unprecedented-during-coronavirus-pandemic
- ATRI Truck Analysis: https://truckingresearch.org/2020/03/25/new-research-designed-to-quantify-trucking-impacts-from-covid-19-industry-survey-seeks-operating-impacts-from-drivers-fleets/
- StreetLight COVID-19 VMT Monitor: https://www.streetlightdata.com/VMT-monitor-by-county/
At this time the AASHTO staff are working remotely to reduce personal contact as much as possible. We have also cancelled or postponed several AASHTO sponsored events. Please visit our Meetings web site for the latest status of AASHTO meetings.