Project Delayed 12 Months Because Of COVID-19 Impact On NC DOT Revenues
BENSON – As people across North Carolina have taken lifesaving measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, traffic volumes have plummeted, causing at least a $300 million budget shortfall for the N.C. Department of Transportation (NC DOT) for this fiscal year ending June 30, 2020.
Because NC DOT revenue is fully funded through the Motor Fuels Tax, Highway Use Tax and DMV fees, this significant impact forced the department to notify local governments, stakeholders and the general public that all but about 50 major projects scheduled to start in the next 12 months are delayed. Projects moving forward are funded by GARVEE bonds, BUILD NC bonds and federal grants.
Locally, one major project being delayed is the widening of Interstate 95 in Johnston and Harnett counties – between the 81 mile marker (at the I-40 interchange near Benson) south to the 71 mile marker outside of Dunn. The DOT announced the letting of a contract originally scheduled for July 2020 has been delayed one year until July 2021, because of the budget crisis. Although now delayed by one year, the project is fully funded so construction can begin soon after the contract is awarded next year.
A bid was awarded in 2019 for the widening of I-95 between the 71 and 56 mile markers in Harnett and Cumberland counties and construction on that stretch of interstate is underway.
The NCDOT also announced other significant steps to decrease expenditures including:
- Allowing only mission critical purchases
- Laying off temporary and embedded consultants
- Suspending or decreasing many programs and services
- Hiring freeze (except for positions that impact public safety)
The department is in the process of developing plans for potential furloughs and a Reduction in Force (RIF). Those plans are not yet complete and no decision has been made at this time to enact them.