Highway Reauthorization Extension Approved by Senate Panel

Wed September 24, 2003 - National Edition

As the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved a five-month extension of federal highway and mass transit programs Sept. 23, the House of Representatives still needs to enact a short-term extension to avoid a shutdown of the Federal Highway Administration and construction projects around the country. Time is running out to pass a critical extension, as the current legislation, TEA-21, is set to expire in less than seven days on September 30, 2003.

“An extension is critical to keep the ’lights on’ at the Federal Highway Administration and to keep highway construction from coming to a screeching halt, said Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). “Once Congress passes an extension, they need to immediately turn their sights on enacting a comprehensive surface transportation bill that will bolster our economy, protect and create good-paying jobs, and improve our roads and bridges.”

Today, the House will consider H.R. 3087, a five-month extension of the TEA-21 bill, which provides federal funds for highways and public transit. The immediate concern with passing a short-term extension is that it hampers state DOT’s long range planning. State and local governments will have difficulty planning for the next construction season.

Sandherr said, “An extension is a critical first step to enacting a fully-funded six-year highway and transit program for one of the most vital infrastructure systems to the nation.”

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are working in a bipartisan way to fund TEA-21 reauthorization at $375 billion over six years – in order to create millions of jobs and rebuild our roads, bridges, and mass transit. The investment in highways and mass transit would create an additional 1.3 million jobs, while working to improve the one-third of America’s roads, bridges, transit vehicles and facilities that are in poor condition.