TDA Newsletter  4/24/2020
Traffic at Historically Low Levels During COVID-19 Outbreak, Revenue Drops
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation data, Wisconsinites are doing what they should be doing – staying at home. By the end of March, passenger vehicle traffic was down 50% compared to the week of March 1-7, which was before the Governor closed schools or issued the Safer at Home order.

With the need to restock grocery shelves and maintain the flow of vital supplies, the decline in truck traffic is significantly less severe. These traffic reductions mirror national trends.
While this sharp drop in traffic is useful for slowing the spread of the virus and may allow some projects to be completed early , the downturn in traffic will also likely have a notable impact on state transportation revenue in Wisconsin and around the nation.  

AASHTO Calls for Emergency Federal Aid
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) estimates that states may suffer the loss of 30% of state transportation revenue over the next 18 months.

Earlier this month, AASHTO sent a letter to congressional leaders requesting the next COVID-19 legislation include $50 billion as an immediate revenue backstop to state DOTs. This infusion of cash is necessary to prevent consequential disruptions in the operation and maintenance of state transportation systems during this health emergency. Moreover, AASHTO called for a doubling of surface transportation investment with at least a six-year reauthorization as a time-tested vehicle for economic recovery.
More than 20 Organization Sign on to Wisconsin Delegation Letter
Wisconsin transportation stakeholders recently sent a letter to the state's congressional delegation expressing support for the inclusion of transportation aid and a robust, multi-year surface transportation reauthorization in coronavirus relief legislation. The twenty-four organizations that signed on to the letter represent contractors, local governments, economic development groups, and users of the system.

Furthermore, almost 200 individual advocates answered a TDA call to action and contacted their representatives in support of transportation investment.

Although we were not successful in getting transportation investment included in the most recently passed COVID-19 measure, we did communicate our position to the delegation. Now, we must continue to push for short-term emergency aid and a substantial, long-term surface transportation reauthorization.

Please be on the lookout for future calls to action and ways to weigh in. Your participation matters.
COVID-19 Resources
Federal Update
Congress Passes $480 Billion COVID-19 Relief Package
Congress passed, and the president is expected to sign a roughly $480 billion package to help small businesses and hospitals and to expand COVID-19 testing.

The bill includes:
  • $310 billion for the oversubscribed Paycheck Protection Program
  • $60 billion ($50 billion in loans and $10 billion in grants) for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program
  • $75 billion for hospitals 
  • $25 billion to facilitate and expand COVID-19 testing

The bill does not shore up state and local governments for lost revenue, which was a priority for Democrats. However, according to President Trump, work will begin shortly on the next relief measure, and it could include state and local government aid, infrastructure, tax incentives, and other mechanisms to spur economic recovery.

"After I sign this Bill, we will begin discussions on the next Legislative Initiative with fiscal relief ... to State/Local Governments for lost revenues from COVID 19, much needed Infrastructure Investments for Bridges, Tunnels, Broadband, Tax Incentives for Restaurants, Entertainment, Sports, and Payroll Tax Cuts to increase Economic Growth," Trump tweeted.
Wisconsin Receives CARES Act Funds
Airports and public transportation systems in Wisconsin will receive almost $300 million in COVID-19 emergency relief funding.

The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act included $25 billion for public transportation and $10 billion for airlines and airports. Most CARE Act dollars went to direct payments to individuals and families, unemployment benefits, grants and loans to economically distressed industries and small businesses, and funds for state and local governments and our nation’s healthcare system.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will award $83 million in airport aid to 87 Wisconsin airports. This funding will support continuing operations and replace lost revenue resulting from the drop in passenger traffic and other airport business due to the COVID-19 health emergency. The funds may be used for airport capital expenditures, operating expenses - including payroll and utilities, and debt payments.

Wisconsin public transit systems will receive $209 million from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). These funds require no local match and can be used to support capital, operating, and other expenses to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.
TDA Outreach
"On The Go" Podcast: The Role of Essential Workers and the Importance of Transportation During National Emergency

On TDA’s On the Go podcast, Executive Director Debby Jackson has begun a series of conversations highlighting essential transportation workers across the state.

“Transportation leaders, understanding the important role transportation plays during the COVID-19 outbreak and always demonstrating a laser-like focus on safety, have developed and implemented new procedures to protect their employees and the public while continuing to perform their duties,” Jackson says in the latest On the Go episode.

Over the next several weeks, Jackson aims to share the stories of individuals who work in essential roles that touch the transportation sector. These include railroad, transit, port and airport workers, road construction crews, as well as truck drivers – all of whom are taking extra precautions to protect both themselves and the public at large from the spread of the virus.

“I will be speaking with industry leaders to find out how they are adapting to our new environment in a COVID-19 world and will be learning how their employees are feeling. And interestingly, I will explore whether there are some changes to procedures that are worthy of keeping long-term, even once this pandemic is behind us.”

Ron Chamberlain, La Crosse County Highway Commissioner, is the first interview in the series. He explains how county highway departments are adapting to new procedures and still getting the job done.

Listen to the latest episodes (and all previous episodes) here .
Association News
TDA Events

TDA Annual Meeting: Thursday, November 12