Delays imminent for Hampstead Bypass
WILMINGTON, NC (StarNews) — The NC Department of Transportation (DOT) is traveling down a rough stretch of highway right now. Major hurricanes, paying settlements in a massive lawsuit, and past overspending have left the DOT cash-strapped. Any light at the end of the tunnel was extinguished as coronavirus-related revenue shortfalls have left the DOT cash-strapped and placing projects on hold.
State law requires the DOT to maintain a minimum cash balance of $293 million. Once the department falls below that floor — as it did at the end of April when the balance fell to $272 million — it is not allowed to enter contracts or purchase land until revenues are back up. Preliminary engineering work has been suspended on all but a select list of priority projects and even those will not be able to move forward once any right-of-way acquisitions are needed.
“Never in the history of NCDOT has there been such an immediate and sustained decline in revenues,” Sec. Eric Boyette said in the May 4 announcement that the DOT had fallen below its legally mandated cash balance.