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NCDOT facing cutbacks due to coronavirus

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RALEIGH — COVID-19 has severely affected the N.C. Department of Transportation to the point that most projects have been delayed and layoffs have begun.

As people across North Carolina have taken lifesaving measures to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, traffic volumes have plummeted, causing at least a $300 million budget shortfall for the state’s transportation budget for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

“Because the department’s revenue is fully funded through the Motor Fuels Tax, Highway Use Tax and DMV fees, this significant impact has 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,” said state transportation spokesman Steve Abbott.

Projects moving forward are funded by GARVEE bonds, BUILD NC bonds and federal grants.

A list of the projects that are still scheduled to be awarded in the next year is available on the NCDOT website.

The changes don’t affect construction projects already underway or those that have already been awarded.

The department is taking 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.

• Implementing a hiring freeze except for positions that affect public safety.

The department is in the process of developing plans for potential furloughs and a reduction in force. The plans are not yet complete and no decision has been made at this time to enact them, Abbott said.