Coronavirus cuts transportation funding, puts major road and bridge projects on hold

One of the many side effects of stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic is a catastrophic decline in state and local transportation funding, which officials said threatens to bring road and bridge construction to a screeching halt for the next year and a half.

“It’s a very large concern,” Patrick McKenna, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation and president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), said of a projected 30% decline in transportation revenue nationwide. “This is a pressing, immediate issue.”

The financial crisis that resulted from shuttering much of the economy forced governments big and small to postpone construction, even as roads, bridges and tunnels crumble. Collections of gas taxes and tolls that fuel construction have plummeted as motorists stay home. Despite historically low interest rates, voters and their governments are leery of borrowing because of uncertainty about repaying the debt.