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Millions of dollars in road projects could be in jeopardy

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Transportation officials from across the United States and its territories have been warned that damaging cutbacks may be in store for federal highway funding. Department of Public Works director Glenn Leon Guerrero says it is possible but not very likely that projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration could be impacted if Congress allows the law that authorizes the federal government's infrastructure spending to expire.

Leon Guerrero says Guam receives about $16 million a year from the FHA. However, could that be at risk following a warning from the US Department of Transportation? "I wouldn't be worried at this point in time," he said.

Leon Guerrero, along with Transportation Department heads from across the states and US territories, were notified on July 14 in a letter by US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx that damaging cutbacks could be in store as the highway funding deadline approaches. "Basically informing us that they're moving ahead on progress on the 21st Century Act Is set to expire July 31, 2015 or less than a month from now. And unless Congress acts to give them another extension or more desired is a long term appropriation, or budget appropriation then they're going to have to do things such as put the Federal Highway employees on furlough and probably even go into cash management protocols," he added.

In the letter, Foxx warns that if the deadline is missed the highway trust fund will dip below 4-billion dollars, triggering cash management procedures and leading to delayed reimbursements to the states. Leon Guerrero says DPW is in close contact with territorial reps to see what, if any, impact this will have on DPW. If Congress does fail to act and the funding issue becomes a reality, what could happen is GovGuam will have to pay a portion of what used to be fully federally funded projects.

GovGuam however would eventually be reimbursed. He says while there is potential for impacts, it's very "far-off".  "If it really comes down to that we'll really have to look at all the projects we're doing and make sure the projects we start were complete and the projects we already started, we'll see if we have to pair down," he said.

The funding shortfall will also require the FHWA to furlough employees which according to Foxx means agencies having to cease access to personnel who assist with all highway projects. "It will affect all the federal employees, so we do have federal employees here on Guam and we do have federal employees in Hawaii," he said.

Several employees are 100% federally funded and should funding cease, he says DPW will look at local funds to supplement until such time that an appropriation bill is passed by Congress.  "This seems like a pattern that Congress has been following and hopefully we can make a change for the better," he said.

Leon Guerrero says this is the not the first time a situation like this has occurred with the federal government. Several projects under the federal highways include the construction on the Bile Bay Bridge project, road work on Ypao Road and Hamburger Road and Phase II of the Tiyan Parkway Project which is 100% federally funded. 

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