TDA Newsletter  5/29/2020
WisDOT Talks COVID-19, Revenue Impacts
In a recent WisconsinEye interview , Secretary Thompson and reporter Steve Walters discussed the effects of COVID-19 on Wisconsin transportation. When it comes to the next fiscal year, Thompson said the worst-case scenario would be a $400 to $600 million transportation revenue shortfall. However, traffic levels would have to remain depressed for an extended period of time. According to Thompson, the department is already seeing an uptick in travel.

Thompson stated every option should be on the table when it comes to addressing any COVID-related revenue shortfall. WisDOT will have a better idea about the scope of the revenue issue later this summer.

For fiscal year 2020, WisDOT found about $100 million in savings, more than enough to offset a projected $80 million decline in revenue $30 million from the gas tax and $50 million from title/vehicle registration fees.

TDA was asked by Steve Walters to provide a statement on the possible revenue shortfall next year and our position on potential solutions. This request is for an upcoming article covering Walters' interview with Secretary Thompson. Please click here for the statement.
Jim Peterson Receives ARTBA Honor
Jim Peterson will be inducted into the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Foundation’s 2020 Transportation Development Hall of Fame. Peterson's influence on Wisconsin transportation goes way beyond his contributions to the highway contracting industry. He was one of the founding members of TDA in the early 1970s and continues to be active.

Peterson is the vice president of Wisconsin-based James Peterson Sons, Inc. and has been a national, state, and local transportation advocate for more than 50 years.

Peterson's accomplishments include playing a significant role in Wisconsin enacting indexing of the state's motor fuel tax and championing “Corridor 2020” highway expansion. On the federal level, he worked to ensure Wisconsin got an equitable return on the gas tax dollars it paid into the federal Highway Trust Fund.  
TDA Outreach
On The Go Podcasts: Transportation During COVID-19

TDA Executive Director Debby Jackson has wrapped up a series of interviews with Wisconsin transportation leaders. In these TDA On the Go podcasts, Jackson and guests talked about how their organizations adapted operations for COVID-19 to keep employees and the public safe. In addition, they discussed the vital role Wisconsin transportation has played during this health emergency and the equally significant role transportation will play in our state's economic recovery.

People interviewed during this series include:

Pat Goss, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association
Ron Chamberlain, La Crosse County Highway Commissioner
Dean Haen, Director of the Brown County Port & Resource Recovery Department
Neal Kedzie, President of the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association
Abe Weber, Director of the Appleton International Airport
Emily Traiforos, State Director for Go Rail
Ron McDonald, General Manager of Valley Transit 

Thanks to all podcast participants for your leadership during the pandemic and your willingness to share with others your knowledge and commitment to the industry, your neighbors, and Wisconsin.

Listen to the latest episodes here . And be on the lookout for more to come.
National News
House Passes Another Round of Economic Relief Legislation
On May 15, the House passed the $3 trillion Health & Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, with 14 Democrats voting against the bill and one Republican joining the majority. The legislation contains many measures intended to provide economic relief, including money for state and local governments and transportation programs to offset the loss of revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Act includes $15 billion for the states to be distributed by the current FAST Act formula. The money needs no state match and could be used for construction as well as operational and administrative expenses incurred by state departments of transportation. This amount is significantly less than the $50 billion requested by the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials to offset estimated lost state transportation revenue over the next 18 months.

Other transportation-related provisions would:
  • Provide remaining FY 2020 Federal-aid Highway formula at 100 percent federal share and allow the dollars to cover operational, maintenance, and administrative expenses, including payroll. 
  • Cancel the annual August redistribution of any unobligated funds. 
  • Provide $15.75 billion for public transportation programs, which would be in addition to the $25 billion included in the CARES Act.
  • Transfer from the General Fund to the Airport and Airways Trust Fund the amount necessary to offset the decline in federal aviation tax receipts.

Under the HEROES Act, state governments would be provided $500 billion in flexible funding to help them manage the fiscal fallout from COVID-19, while local governments would receive $375 billion.

Senate leadership has expressed the desire to evaluate the impact of previous economic relief legislation before working on the next.

TDA continues, in coordination with other state and national associations, to communicate with the Wisconsin Delegation about the need for a $50 billion backstop for state DOTs and a robust, multi-year surface reauthorization. 
Rural Transportation Network Backlog
The rural transportation network in the United States is an essential link in the nation’s supply chain and an essential path for many vital goods and products. Awareness of the significance of our transportation system, including rural roads and bridges, was heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, a new report from TRIP, Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland, highlights a national $211 billion backlog in improvements to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash and fatality rates, and inadequate connectivity and capacity.

Wisconsin ranks in the top half of states for the highest percentages of roads and bridges in poor condition.
Association News
TDA Events

TDA Annual Meeting: Thursday, November 12