President signs bill extending federal highway program to end of year

March 18, 2010

President Obama today signed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act into law thereby stabilizing the federal highway and transit investments through the end of the calendar year.

The measure also contains many changes to strengthen the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), including: a one-time transfer of $19.5 billion in previously foregone interest payments into the HTF; a shift in the cost of fuel tax exemptions for state and local governments from the HTF to the general fund which will generate an anticipated $1.5 billion annually; and a change to current law that will allow the HTF to retain interest earned on future unexpended balances.  The law also features a tax incentive for capital purchases and “Build America Bonds” to lower state and local borrowing costs for infrastructure projects.

While this law provides some stability in the marketplace for the coming construction season, the highway construction industry continues to urge both Congress and the White House to develop a robust multi-year reauthorization for passage before the December 31 expiration of this latest extension. The U.S. House and Senate transportation committees are continuing to hold hearings on a multi-year reauthorization.

Source:  ARTBA

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