Missouri DOT cancels February bid opening because of funding uncertainty

Fantastic. Congress continues to drag its heels on reauthorization of a surface transportation bill, and now our fears are confirmed. The trickle-down effect has begun.

It’s not news that it’s a problem that uncertain funding leads to project delays and cancellations. But the stimulus money had been masking –or maybe serving as a Band-Aid is a better comparision — some of the ill effects.

We know that lack of and uncertainty about funding levels could lead to a halt in projects. Definitely not a good place to be in with a fledgling economy.

Now, our fears are confirmed. And problems have begun.

With continued uncertainty about federal funding levels for highway and bridge projects, the Missouri Department of Transportation announced that it is withdrawing all projects advertised for bid in its February bid opening.

SAFETEA-LU, the most recent multi-year federal highway bill passed in 2005, provided $42 billion per year nationally to fund highway and bridge projects for cities, counties and states. When it expired in September 2009, the U.S. Congress extended SAFETEA-LU, but at a $30 billion annual level. For Missouri, the resulting funding shortfall puts nearly $250 million in state and local transportation projects in jeopardy.

“We are encouraged by actions taken by the U.S. Senate in recent days to remedy this situation,” MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said in a press release from the agency. “But, in fact, there is not yet agreement between the Senate and the House on a common bill to address the shortfall in federal funding for highway and bridge projects to cities, counties and states. Because of this, MoDOT cannot prudently proceed with the February 26 bid opening.”

If Congress remedies the funding shortfall, MoDOT will combine the February projects scheduled for bid opening with those planned for bid opening on March 26 and post them on March 1. If no action is taken, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission will re-evaluate the remaining bid openings scheduled through May 21, 2010.

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Better Roads, Aggregates Manager and Equipment World are checking to MoDOT to find out the status of these cancellations announced today. Check back for more information.