February 5, 2021


Mosquito Road Bridge Project...



Yesterday I sent out my newsletter stating that this project was fully funded by the Highway Bridge Program which meant that no local discretionary funds were needed on this project.  Unfortunately, the newsletter was sent out before I had time to read the February 9th agenda item that had just come out, and while this project does qualify for full reimbursement through the Federal Highway Bridge Program, there are some critically important details the Board will have to consider next Tuesday. 

The linked staff report is comprehensive and clearly lays out all the details. I encourage you to read the full report for yourself, but here is a summary of the issues coming before the Board on February 9th...

1.  At an estimated construction cost of $70.5 million, the Mosquito Bridge falls into the "High Cost" category (any project over $20 million) requiring us to enter into a High Cost Project Agreement with the State. 

2. Local agencies generally do not have the capacity to mobilize contractors and actually construct large portions of a project in any one year.  This can tie up federal funds for years...funds that could be put to work on other projects in the State.  Therefore, HBP funds reimburse qualified projects annually on a "fair and equitable basis".

3.  The Board is asked to consider entering into a High Cost Project agreement which would allocate, on a reimbursement basis, up to $20 million per year toward this project. 

4.   At this time, Congress has not authorized a new Transportation Act for 21/22 meaning that "executing the Agreement does not guarantee the availability of federal funds nor does it specifically guarantee that a local agency will fund or construct the Project". 

5.  As written in the Staff Report, "If there are delays in a new funding act, the County would have the option to delay the Project and be reimbursed for all eligible costs caused by such a delay.  When a new transportation act is programmed, the active projects with funding commitments like this Project are placed on the top of the funding priority list".

6.  The first phase of this project, design and right of way, will be funded with a HBP grant in the amount of $8.813 million.

7.  The staff report details the  Construction Cash Flow:  "County construction expenditures (are estimated) to exceed the HBP $20 million per year of reimbursement by up to $14.2 million for approximately six months" and that "this Agreement proposes to fund the Project with $16.3 million the first year and $20 million per year after that until there is 100% reimbursement of Project construction costs".

8.  The proposed local funding sources are stated as such: "The County will need to utilize Tribe funds, Road fund, and possibly General Fund, to cash flow the Project between these reimbursement cycles".  Furthermore, "If for some reason the HBP funds were not received and the County has incurred expenses above the $20 million annual HBP allocation, the County will have to cover these expenses with the funding sources noted above.  If for some reason the Agreement's HBP funds for reimbursement are cancelled completely, the County would have the option to shut down the Project construction until a new funding source is programmed."

Full details can be found here:  MOSQUITO ROAD BRIDGE PROJECT

Supervisor Wendy Thomas, bosthree@edcgov.us