Extension Provides Short-Term Relief for Infrastructure Builders
With less than 48 hours before the funds were set to dry up, President Obama signed a two month extension of federal highway funding on May 29. The extension of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), which funds safety, highway, transit and other transportation related programs, comes at a time of great debate about how to fund improvements and repairs to America’s roads, bridges and transportation infrastructure. The extension will now expire on July 31.
Despite collaboration between congressional transportation, tax and public works committees, Senators and Representatives were unable to come to an agreement on how to pay for a multi-year highway bill. Last week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that a six-year reauthorization of the program would cost $85 to $90 billion dollars.
The 60-day extension gives policymakers a short window to work on a long-term extension, which industry experts agree will most likely result in a band-aid patch until the end of 2015. There has not been a multi-year bill signed into law since 2009, with 33 different short-term extensions filling the gaps.
About 50 percent of funding on infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges, transit and more, come from the federal government’s HTF, which is paid for by the 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax. The government then allocates that money to states based on size, highway usage and necessity, and states cover the other 50 percent.