Obama signs Highway-Transit Fund extension

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In a move that will provide some stability for transportation construction, President Obama has signed legislation to extend federal highway and transit programs through Sept. 30, the last day of the 2011 fiscal year. Final congressional approval of the bill came on March 3, when the Senate passed it on a voice vote. The House had approved the measure one day earlier.

The bill is the seventh stopgap highway-transit authorization since Sept. 30, 2009, when the last multi-year statute, the 2005 SAFETEA-LU law, expired.

Construction and state transportation officials would have strongly preferred to see Congress approve a much longer bill, but the new extension provides more funding predictability than the previous six short stopgaps did.

John Horsley, the  American Association of  State Highway and Transportation Officials’ executive director, said the new extension also gives the House and Senate a “window of certainty” to allow lawmakers to “focus on drafting the legislation to fund the program long term.” He added, “Now we set about the hard work of getting a multiyear reauthorization in place later this year.”

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-California, said in a statement that the seven-month extension of Fiscal Year 2009 funding levels for highways and mass transit will save and create jobs in the construction industry and help get the economy back on track.

“With the construction season upon us, this extension is especially important because it will give states the certainty they need to award contracts and get projects underway,” she said. “This will help ensure that jobs are saved and created across the country. I am continuing to work with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on a new surface transportation bill for the 21st century. Our goal is to get this legislation enacted by the end of this year.”  Read More.

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