Congress passed temporary funding to continue road, highway and bridge construction, but once again punted on a multiyear reauthorization that includes a sustainable funding mechanism, according to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.
“It is positive to see strong bipartisan support for the crucial infrastructure that keeps our economy growing, but this stopgap fix is not a cost-effective way to improve our most valuable national assets – our roads, highways and bridges,” said Mike Johnson, president and CEO of NSSGA.
The measure, H.R.5021, avoids a potential late July shortfall that would have slowed existing projects and further delayed new ones. This “patch” to the dwindling Highway Trust Fund continues funding through May 2015 and now proceeds to the White House where the president is expected to sign it.
Johnson said that Congress must ultimately come up with a long-term solution as states and localities are hesitant to start new projects or finish existing ones out of fear that the federal government won’t meet its funding obligations.
“The number of potholes grows daily and traffic jams are getting worse because unpredictable federal support delays these much needed upgrades and repairs,” Johnson added.
American Road and Transportation Builders Association President and CEO Pete Ruane said, “We commend the House and Senate for preserving the continuity of federal highway and transit funding to the states with a short-term revenue patch. That, no doubt, temporarily saved many Americans their jobs. We want to be clear, however, that we find no reason for anyone to celebrate what amounts to a last minute first down pass.
“It is incumbent on the Congress to now focus full-bore on the end zone – enacting a long-term, sustainable revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund before the end of this year," he said. "That will allow the Congress to then focus on developing and passing a long-term surface transportation program reauthorization bill before the eight-month May extension deadline that was just set expires. There is no reason why a funding solution needs to wait for a reauthorization bill. That’s putting the cart before the horse. Otherwise, we’ll no doubt see a repeat of this same process next spring with yet another package of budget gimmicks while the 2015 construction season hangs in the balance. Americans deserve better than this on a core responsibility of the federal government.”
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association Executive Director and CEO Patrick D. Jones said, “While the states are justifiably relieved that both Houses of Congress passed the Highway Trust Fund patch today, there is much more work to do. We call on Congress to develop a robust vision and a long-term plan to address the critical funding needs of our nation’s surface transportation system before the current patch expires in May 2015."