Congress clears surface transportation extension

One day after the House passed the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011 by a final vote of 421 to 4, the Senate approved by voice vote March 3 vital legislation to extend highway, transit, and highway safety programs through the end of September, clearing the measure for signature by President Barack Obama.

“This legislation will provide some stability for transportation departments in every state and allow DOTs to continue planning and constructing transportation projects through the summer construction season,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.) in a written press statement. “This extension of transportation programs will allow more time for the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to develop a fiscally responsible, long-term reauthorization of transportation programs to create jobs and build our nation’s infrastructure.”

Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) says that with unemployment in the construction industry at an all-time high, “it is imperative that we extend the surface transportation programs through the end of the fiscal year.”

H.R. 662, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011, was introduced in the House by the Republican and Democrat leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  The legislation freezes funding at fiscal year 2010 levels for highway, transit, and highways safety programs.

The previous extension of programs expires March 4, and this legislation is critical to ensuring that transportation programs and projects are not shut down and that infrastructure construction jobs are not threatened, said Mica.