Senate committee approves short-term TEA-21 extension

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved on Tuesday a five-month extension of the federal highway and mass transit programs that could give the highway fund enough money to keep business as usual, for now.

The House of Representatives and Senate still need to agree on an extension before the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century expires Sept. 30. Congress has been in a stalemate over reauthorization of the bill.

“An extension is critical to keep the ‘lights on’ at the Federal Highway Administration and to keep highway construction from coming to a halt,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive of the Associated General Contractors of America. “Once Congress passes an extension, they need to immediately turn their sights on enacting a comprehensive surface transportation bill.”

The House and Senate are considering the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s five-month extension of TEA-21. While a short-term extension would keep current transportation construction projects going, it could hamper long-range planning for state departments of transportation.

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