Thanksgiving could break highway/bridge industry

News AASHTO October 08, 2003
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American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials President John Njord has called on Congress to mobilize quickl

American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials President John Njord has called on Congress to mobilize quickly to draft a full-scale reauthorization of highway and transit programs. He said further delay is sure to cause postponements of badly needed projects with the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.


Although the extension passed by Congress allocates $14.7 billion in highway funding and $3 billion in transit funding to the states through Feb. 29, 2004, Njord stressed that states are not in a position to keep major, multi-year projects alive or start new ones based on intermittent bursts of funding. Complicating matters is a conflict between the five-month extension President Bush signed and a continuing resolution that sets a tighter lid on funding--effectively capping the states' federal transportation obligations at about one month's worth of money, instead of five months.


With the holiday season approaching and Congress likely to be out of session for several weeks between now and Feb. 29, there is realistically only about a month of working time to get a full reauthorization ready for floor action, Njord said. Thanksgiving is likely to be the close of this year's activity on Capitol Hill. Failure to get a long-term bill in place in that limited time may cause pressure to go to a two-year, stopgap solution which would amplify the job-loss and project-delay threats, he said.


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