SOUTHEASTERN NC (WWAY) — The North Carolina Department of Transportation is facing a rough road ahead because of the coronavirus.
The state’s Stay at Home Order, combined with many businesses being temporarily closed, means fewer drivers are on the road at this time.
Spokeswoman Lauren Haviland said the impact of COVID-19 on the NCDOT has been profound due to the severe reduction in gas tax revenue. The gas tax rate is 36.2 cents per gallon, which makes up 54-percent of the state’s transportation budget.
Haviland said some roads have seen up to a 50-percent decrease in traffic. That’s why they are forecasting a shortfall of a least $300 million this fiscal year, which ends on June 30. July 1 starts a new fiscal year and forecasts appear to show the shortfall will be greater, Haviland said.
So what does this mean for planned transportation projects?
The NCDOT said it does not have a definitive list of projects that will or will not happen over the next 12 months because the situation is evolving.
Haviland said it will release a list of project and programs that could be impacted once a decision is made, however, it’s believed projects funded with federal funds, GARVEE bonds and Build NC Bonds will move forward as planned.
Meanwhile, the lack of cars on the road has allowed the resurfacing on Interstate 40 to get more accomplished during this time. Normally, the NCDOT restricts lane closures on holiday, days prior to the holiday and immediately after, such as Good Friday and Easter Monday. The contractor was allowed to work on those days.
Road construction is exempt from the Stay at Home Order. It is considered essential business, however, contractors can request a project be halted.