CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox told MetroNews Friday he’s seen a little more movement in Congress this week toward what could be a potential agreement to extend funding for the Federal Highway Trust Fund. Federally-funded highway construction projects will come to a halt if there’s no deal by Aug. 1.
Mattox said committees in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate have been discussing similar bills this week that would provide $10.8 billion in funding through May 31, 2015.
“That would make the Highway Trust Fund solvent and give us the money we need to keep our road construction projects moving forward,” Mattox said.
But the secretary admitted anything could happen over the next three weeks so the state must be prepared in case there’s no money for construction projects like Corridor H and Route 10. Mattox said the state has explained a contingency plan to the contractors working on 203 federally funded projects.
“We’ve contacted our contractors and told them we will reduce their payments Aug. 1,” he said. “They would have the choice of receiving those reduced payments for the work they’ve done or they could choose to stop construction until the crisis is averted.”
Mattox said he expects the decisions to differ among contractors.
The way it works now is contractors submit invoices to the state DOH for payment and the state pays them out of the state Road Fund. The state then submits the bills to the federal government which reimburses the state. In most cases, it’s about 80 percent of the initial payment.
Secretary Mattox said he’s hopeful members of Congress and President Barack Obama reach an agreement, even it is just continuing funding under the current plan.
“We’ve been down this road before,” Mattox said. “It seems their backs are against the wall but they always come through with additional funding.”