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Utah transportation projects move forward as planned while congress debates federal funding

SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – Gasoline taxes fuel the federal Highway Trust Fund, but right now it's inching toward empty and could be dry by the end of the summer.
SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – Gasoline taxes fuel the federal Highway Trust Fund, but right now it's inching toward empty and could be dry by the end of the summer.

"This is not new, we've been here three times in the past and congress has brought about $55 billion from the general fund into the highway trust fund to keep it solvent in the past," said UDOT Executive Director, Carlos Braceras.

President Obama's solution this time around is a four year, $302 billion transportation plan.

In addition to fuel taxes it would be funded by changes to business taxes.

It’s likely to hit a dead end in a divided congress.

As Washington hashes out the details, UDOT is moving full speed ahead.

"In Utah we have enough cash balance, we can manage this program, so I’m telling our contractors we're not slowing down any jobs,” said Braceras.

Federal funds make up about 20% of UDOT's $1.2 billion budget.

If the stalemate were to continue, bridge preservation and preventative maintenance projects would be the ones to suffer.

At the city level it's a little different, Salt Lake City competes with other cities for federal funds through a grant process.

Salt Lake's new street car and bike share program were both funded by the feds.

City officials say the money is critical in their mission to balance transportation and the environment.

"We need every tool possible available to us, whether it’s through the federal government or local strategies, things that we decide as a community that will help reduce our emission and clean our air," said Salt Lake City Transportation Director, Robin Hutcheson.

The majority of UDOT projects are funded by state money and are not in jeopardy.

A couple of notable upcoming projects include work on I-15 at the point of the mountain and a new interchange at Redwood Road and Bangerter Highway.

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