You've heard of the fiscal cliff. Many are now worried about a transportation cliff as Congress faces a massive funding shortage for road projects across the nation, just as the Washington State Department of Transportation and others firm up their summer construction schedules.
The Obama Administration is warning that the federal Highway Trust Fund, which finances more than $50 billion a year in major highway, bridge and transit projects, is set to run out of the money in the fall.
State transportation officials say a total of 43 projects totaling $29 million could be shelved without a funding solution. Those projects include paving work on Interstate 405 through Bellevue and bridge repair work on the I-90 floating bridge.
The trust fund has been financed by receipts from an 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax and a 24.4 cents-per-gallon diesel fuel tax. But that fund is not able to keep up with the rising cost of construction projects, with so many more electric vehicles on the road requiring less gas.
Representative Jim McDermott, (D-Wash.), says the funding formula must change.
"We have to raise the gas tax," said McDermott "We have to find a better way to put money into the transit system. I think more and more people in Seattle are moving to the transit system and that's true for every metropolitan area of the country."