Fuzzy funding may mean bad news for highway projects and economy

Although an 18-month extension for SAFETEA-LU is in the works as a temporary measure after the legislation expires Sept. 30, we still have a major problem.

First, we need to make sure we make some progress on developing the next surface transportation bill during this extension instead of waiting 18 months and then starting on it.

But even doing that won’t solve one of the problems we face: projects being put on hold because of a lack of funding clarity.

CQ Politics reports that “state transportation officials say uncertainty about future funding is forcing them to foreswear ambitious new projects in favor of simple maintenance and repairs.”

Even with an 18-month extension of the existing highway funding law, state officials say the uncertainly about how much money will be available when a full six-year reauthorization is finally enacted will hold up projects, according to the report.

In a faltering economy, that’s not good news.

Some experts say this could undermine the U.S. economy.

“We’ve reached the point where others are doing the things that allow them to surpass the efficiencies of our economy, and we are going to pay a terrible price for our inaction,” said Pete Rahn, executive director of the Missouri Transportation Department, in the CQ Politics report.