Funding cuts stall long-term transportation projects

The Senate is likely to pass an extension of the federal transportation spending bill this week. Here, a bridge inspector for the Michigan Department of Transportation, performs an inspection on a steel girder bridge along I-696 highway in Southfield, Mich.

Jeremy Hobson: At the end of this month, funding for more than 100,000 highway and transit projects dries up unless Congress can agree on an extension. Usually, those extensions are five or six years. But this week, the Senate is likely to approve only a two year patch.

Here's our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale.


John Dimsdale: Big fixes for traffic congestion can take three or more years. John Horsley at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials says contractors want to know they’re going to be paid.

John Horsley: What you’re seeing for the moment is projects selected that you can execute in one construction season. The longer term, big projects right now are on hold.

That means only band-aids for crumbling highways, says Gregory Cohen. He’s president of the American Highway Users Alliance, representing truck, bus and other highway users.

Gregory Cohen: When you do a long-term bill, not only do you create those construction jobs, but you also get the projects done that really improve the economy on a grand scale.

But so far Congress has been unable to come up with any transportation funding beyond two years, which means even tougher revenue raising decisions somewhere down the road.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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