New Stimulus: A Shot in the Arm for Public Works Contractors

The new stimulus bill, signed into law by President Trump on Sunday night, pumps billions into highway and other transportation services.

Source : Nevada Department of Transportation

December 28, 2020

Author : Alex Bustillos

Meanwhile, the omnibus, which funds the government through September, is giving more money this year than last to the Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration.

While Contractor News has already covered the basics of the new stimulus bill for small businesses and how it differs from the first one, and how the stimulus and omnibus bills are giving direct relief to minority-owned businesses, contractors also stand to benefit from the packages in a massive way.

Many agencies, that contractors are surely keeping their eyes on, are receiving more funding than previous years through the omnibus portion of the legislation.

Tucked more than 1,900 pages into the massive piece of legislation, $10 billion is made available for the Federal Highway Administration to “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”

The funds are to be used for “preventive maintenance, routine maintenance, operations, personnel, including salaries of employees (including those employees who have been placed on administrative leave) or contractors, debt service payments, availability payments, and coverage for other revenue losses.”

Highways have lost a good deal of revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic due to drops in traffic. People are quite simply spending less money on fuel, meaning state’s aren’t getting as big of a cut from fuel taxes to help them operate as they had before the pandemic.

The vast majority of the funds — $9.8 billion — are available for the administration’s Surface Transportation Program Block Grants which can be used for highway, bridge and tunnel construction.

Meanwhile, states can draw from their portion of the $10 billion to help meet their 20 percent funding obligation on federally-aided projects, reports Engineering News Record.

Additionally, the stimulus provides $14 billion in coronavirus relief funds to the Federal Transit Administration. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) calls the additional funding through the stimulus “a critical step in supporting public transit agencies so that they can survive and help our communities and nation recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic.”

The stimulus also adds $1 billion for Amtrak. While it’s unlikely much of those funds will make their way into the hands of contractors, both the APTA and Amtrak say they will lobby Congress for additional funds in the next year.

The stimulus also provides $2 billion in coronavirus relief to airports.

Per the omnibus section of the bill, the Department of Transportation was appropriated more than $86 billion, $553 million more than fiscal year 2020.

The Federal Transit Administration was appropriated $13 billion, $37 million more than FY2020.

And finally, the Federal Railroad Administration was appropriated $2.8 billion, $27 million more than FY2020. 

Category : Contractor Trades Coronavirus Pandemic Department of Transportation Economic Stimulus Federal Government Investment in Infrastructure