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Trying to Resolve Federal Highway Trust Fund Shortfall

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Courtesy: WV Department of Transportation Courtesy: WV Department of Transportation
ELKINS -

The nation's secretary of transportation was in West Virginia on Monday to talk about local and national transportation and infrastructure issues on the state's roadways.

The federal highway trust fund will no longer have enough money to cover promised aid to states. That means projects could be delayed or canceled unless Congress can act on a solution.

If the fund drops low enough, the U.S. Department of Transportation will have to slow down and cut funding to states.

"Our funding will start to be cut. So we're not going to lose it all at once. It will slowly dwindle until it runs out," said Carrie Bly, spokesperson with West Virginia Department of Transportation.

Bly said the state has a plan in place in case there's no money. Three options include stopping the work until federal funds are available, continue working on that contract and receive reduced money, or conduct some other negotiations to allow work to continue.

"So we're having these conversations now with hopes it's not going to happen. But we're talking about it if we do reach that," Bly said.

Bly said the fund deals with highway projects. Public transport that provides that money is also in jeopardy, but the effects won't be felt until this fall.

West Virginia has the sixth largest transportation system in the nation. More than 36,000 miles of road has to be taken care of. 1,800 miles is comprised only of interstate, U.S. routes and state routes.

Lawmakers on the local, state, and federal level agree it's not easy to get around this mountain state without a safe infrastructure.

"It's a serious issue, and it's something that doesn't have a simply solution. But I know the governor and the people at the state are very concerned and will do what they need to do to have routes to commute to, and have transportation and they'll be safe," said Delegate Denise Campbell of Randolph County.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx attended a meeting Monday at the Culture Center in Charleston along with U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall and state Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox.

House and Senate bills both would provide about $11 billion to keep projects going through May.

Mattox said 203 state transportation projects are dependent upon federal aid.

Senator Jay Rockefeller said in a statement "We can't afford to wait any longer. It jeopardizes our economy and competitiveness, and the safety of the traveling public."