Congress is locked up in a fight to extend much needed federal funds for state highways. Unless something is done by
July 31, federal funding of state DOT road projects will cease as current legislation runs out. The US Senate has proposed a new 6 year bill that would go a long way toward returning federal support to normal after several years of short-term funding “patches” that make it hard for states to plan and fulfill long term infrastructure needs. However, at present many senators say they need more time to review the bill and have refused to debate it making this bill unlikely to advance before the deadline.

At the same time the US House of Representatives is proposing a 2-5 month extension of current funding levels, another patch, that will provide short-term funds but still not enable long term planning by the states. The House leadership has passed such a bill and is awaiting Senate concurrence, given the short deadline that is likely to be the path forward again.

Even if a long term bill is passed, the source of funds is in doubt since both Houses of Congress stoutly refuse to pass a much needed fuel tax increase. Instead, they are proposing diverse sources of revenue which creates all kinds of other debate and opposition to the process.

The uncertainty of federal funding for states has existed for most of the past decade and seems unlikely to change, as long as congress is dealing with members who refuse to face the fact that fuel tax revenues as a function of fuel prices and fuel use has declined 75% in real terms in the past 25 years, while infrastructure construction and operating costs have more than doubled.

State DOTs with strong asset management software systems, that help manage their pavement, bridge, safety, and other infrastructure programs, are much better equipped for continuity than those without good systems.  AgileAssets infrastructure asset management software provides state DOTs with up to the minute information on their assets and can be used to analyze alternative programs based on different funding scenarios. They can also show which projects are mandatory based on prior decisions and funding sources, such as bridge repair and safety mandates, and thus what funding levels remain for other needs.

Any state DOT which does not have a modern asset management system in place will not be able to nimbly deal with funding disparity as the legislative process unfolds over the coming days, months, and years. AgileAssets offers an infrastructure asset management suite of modules that are used by over 20 state DOTs to help them make complex funding decisions and more efficiently manage their large portfolio of assets. Some of those agencies are currently analyzing various what-if scenarios for funding levels to be prepared for almost any funding outcome.

It is not too late for your agency large or small to procure good asset management software in order to better manage through current and future funding issues, which are not going away any time soon.

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