WASHINGTON, D.C. — Some smaller contractors in West Virginia were getting ready to layoff workers had not Congress approved funding to continue the federal Highway Trust Fund through next May. The U.S. Senate signed off on the House bill Thursday night steering the fund away from insolvency.
Contractors Association of West Virginia Executive Director Mike Clowser said the group’s members were already making decisions about whether to keep on working without federal funds or close shop. The West Virginia DOH told them they would receive half of what they were owed.
“Some were going to continue just because they had to get the work done before bad weather set in. Smaller firms did not have the luxury of doing that and probably were going to have to shut down,” Clowser said.
The approved bill provides $11.9 billion to reauthorize the program until May 31, 2015. Clowser said what Congress should do now is pass a six-year federal highway bill instead of the band-aid approach. He said the current process builds uncertainty.
“Without a multi-year deal West Virginia and other states are going to be right back in the same situation we are today,” Clowser maintained. “They are going to be hesitant to start major road programs fearing funding will run out before they complete the project.”
Clowser said it’s also time for state leaders to address the state Road Fund. A panel appointed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin worked on the issue last year but provisions of the plan have yet to be addressed.