No SAFTEA-LU Extension Halts Federal Agencies, Leaves Projects in Limbo

Partisan bickering has brought the federal highway program to a halt, according to Associated Equipment Distributors (AED). Because House and Senate failed to agree on a further extension of the SAFETEA-LU surface transportation law before Feb. 28th, beginning March 1, the FHWA, FMCSA, and portions of NHTSA will cease operations until an extension is in place.

The impact could be substantial, according to the AED article, because FHWA will not be able to fund any new expenditures from the Highway Trust Fund, thus prohibiting the federal government from reimbursing states for projects already committed.  The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee reports a total of $768 million in highway outlays for the upcoming week is in limbo, wreaking havoc on state Departments of Transportation planning, and the word is several projects across the country are halting.

“AED has been urging Congress for months to replace SAFETEA-LU with a new multiyear highway law that increases infrastructure investment,” according to the article. “While lawmakers generally agree on the need invest more in infrastructure, there is no consensus about how to pay for a bigger highway program, which has led to the series of short-term SAFETEA-LU extensions.”

With the construction industry mired in a depression and state budgets under enormous pressure, the situation on the Hill is making a bad situation worse, according to AED, which is working with allies to urge lawmakers to get the industry back to work.