E alert
PACA E-Alert – PennDOT & COVID Relief Funding
PennDOT & the New COVID Relief Funding
APC, ACEC, ACPA, PAPA, and PACA staff met on Wednesday, December 23rd with PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian, Executive Deputy Secretary George McAuley, and Deputies Melissa Batula and Larry Shifflett to review the Department’s current financial situation and the impact of the federal COVID relief package. It was confirmed that PennDOT will receive about $410 million from the legislation.

PennDOT leadership indicated they plan to use the COVID relief monies to resume the construction and design program as outlined during the PennDOT - APC Fall Conference. There is further guidance pending from FHWA as the legislation was signed last night by President Trump.

However, PennDOT leadership did confirm that by receiving the $410 million they will be able to fund existing projects and resume lettings, moving forward a capital program that would result in total calendar year 2020 ($1.6B) and 2021 ($2.2B) lettings of $3.8 billion for the two years. PennDOT noted that because things are still somewhat in flux, the status of the January 14 letting is still in question and will have to be confirmed at a later date. This will be done as soon as possible.

The PennDOT leadership did confirm that if the $410M are received from the feds that there will not be a need to engage the General Assembly in a conversation upon their return relating to the bonding authority requested last month.

The following information was provided by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) staff and confirmed during the discussion with PennDOT:

  • A total of $9.84 billion will be distributed to states via the same formula used for annual obligations of authorized Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) funds. The other $160 million will be distributed for Puerto Rico, U.S. territories and tribes. PennDOT’s share is about $410 million, putting PA in the top five states in terms of dollars to be received.


  • While funds can be used for STBG activities (the broadest of the core federal transportation construction programs), state DOTs will have greater-than-normal flexibility in the use of these funds.


  • Uses may include: “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.” It is this bill language to which FHWA intends to provide further guidance.


  • There is no state share associated with this spending allocation, allowing all projects to receive 100 percent federal funds. Any project on the federal system is eligible for use of the funds.


  • The funds will go out within 30 days from enactment of the law and will remain available for use through Fiscal Year 2024.


  • There is still uncertainty regarding how the funds will be administered that will not be known until guidance is provided from USDOT.


Finally, the attached letter to Governor Wolf urging COVID relief funds to be used for capital projects was submitted by our coalition last week.

Questions should be addressed to Peter Vlahos.
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