AASHTO expresses disappointment with transportation bill extension

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The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) said it is disappointed in Congress failing to pass a long-term surface transportation reauthorization.

In a statement, the organization said the short-term extension of the FAST Act through Dec. 3 would leave transportation departments hanging.

“For the second time in a month, Congress has passed a short-term extension of surface transportation programs, leaving state departments of transportation in limbo once again,” said Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director. “We implore the House to pass—well before December 3—the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a historic bipartisan bill passed by the Senate almost three months ago. It includes substantial funding increases for all modes of transportation and allows for five years of funding stability for highway, transit, and passenger rail programs—something state DOTs desperately need to deliver a safe, efficient, and multimodal transportation system.”

Earlier this month, AASHTO released the results of a survey of member organizations showing the impact of short-term extensions. The survey provided insight from more than 35 members on the negative effects short-term extensions have in their states.

Missouri’s Department of Transportation (MoDOT) said the short-term funding impacts the state’s ability to plan for and maintain larger projects.

“Short-term extensions and the lack of a long-term bill has huge impacts on Missouri’s capital program,” MoDOT replied to the survey. “We use most of our state funds for operation and routine maintenance of our 34,000-mile system. We are very reliant on federal funds for our Asset Management Program and the much-needed improvements on our system in the safety and economic development areas. Without long-term certainty of funding, we have to pull back on planning and project development of large projects, and our program becomes a month-to-month commitment. Contractors cannot make commitments on plant and equipment or workforce, and the whole industry basically gets put in a holding pattern.”

Tymon urged Congress to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) before the Dec. 3 deadline.

“AASHTO members need certainty to plan transportation projects to meet the needs of their communities and keep our economy moving, and the impact of these short-term extensions is not insignificant,” Tymon said in a statement. “Congress must pass the IIJA immediately to lessen the harmful impacts that come from the lack of a long-term surface transportation bill.”