Uncertainty over federal funding for transportation projects amid a partial government shutdown is causing some worry for South Dakota officials that projects could be delayed.
"To this point, the effect has been minimal," South Dakota Department of Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist said Friday. "The longer it goes on, the more likely we are to see delays to projects."
Bergquist said the state is still seeing federal funding for current projects because the Department of Transportation is considered essential and has remained open.
"The checks are still coming in," he said.
It's other federal departments that are closed like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Forest Service that could impact upcoming road and bridge projects.
Those departments have to sign off on road projects for a numbers of reasons like they may share a boundary with the projects or a wetland may be adjacent to the construction project.
As the shutdown drags on, the likelihood of some projects getting delayed increases.
"There isn't a specific project that we know will be affected right now," Bergquist said. "But we are kind of in uncharted waters."
He noted that any project scheduled for 2019 on the DOT's Statewide Transportation Improvement Program list could be in jeopardy of being delayed.
Some of the projects on that list include: the multi-million dollar Sheridan Lake Road reconstruction project west of Rapid City, a resurfacing of state Highway 79 and the reconstruction of Interstate 90 south of Sturgis.
Transportation officials in Oklahoma this week announced plans to delay bids on 45 highway projects worth about $137 million.
"This will affect only new projects that we haven't (bid) yet," Oklahoma Department of Transportation spokeswoman Terri Angier said. "Unless they reach a resolution that includes the budget and authorizes us more money to put toward the projects, we can't add new projects."
The agency is delaying bids on 26 projects totaling about $101 million in January and another 19 projects in February worth about $35.6 million, she said.
States that receive a greater percentage of road and bridge funding from the federal government like South Dakota should be particularly concerned, said Tony Dorsey with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in Washington, D.C.
"It's just simple math," Dorsey said. "If you have a big chunk of your funding coming from the feds and you've got a partial government shutdown affecting that funding, you might be less inclined to move forward with these major projects."