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Update: Congress formally approves 6-month extension

September 16, 2011

Source:  AASHTO Journal, Sept. 16, 2011

The United States Senate put its formal stamp of approval on extending the federal highway program for another six months.  PHIA reported earlier this week that Congressional leaders were close to making a deal to delay the reauthorization of the nation’s highway program until March 2012 rather than address the issue this fall.

That deal came to fruition late last night when the Senate voted 92-6 to send President Barack Obama a measure extending authorization at current funding levels for federal highway and transit programs until March 31.  Also part of the bill was an extension for federal aviation programs until Jan. 31.  The House of Representatives passed the bill by voice vote earlier in the week without any debate. 

President Obama will receive the bill in the next few days and when signed into law, this would be the eighth short-term extension of the 2005 surface transportation authorization law known as “SAFETEA-LU,” which originally expired Sept. 30, 2009.

“While the passage of this extension delays the debate for another six months, the gravity and seriousness of the problem won’t go away with this congressional action,” said PHIA managing director Jason Wagner.  “The deep-rooted differences on the future of the nation’s highway program still exist and as a result the long-term prospects for the highway construction industry will suffer.  State departments of transportation as well and transportation infrastructure companies need stable and predictable funding in order to adequately plan infrastructure projects, hire and keep workers, invest in capital equipment, etc.”

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