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Transportation Reauthorization Bill in Limbo

Since the Transportation Reauthorization Bill (SAFETEA-LU) expired in Sept. 2009, Congress has passed a series of extensions, making it impossible for state and local transportation officials to plan for long-term highway and transit improvements. Pres. Obama is urging Congress to pass a bi-partisan SAFETEA funding bill in 2011.
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The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) is a bill that governs federal surface transportation spending. It was signed into law by President George W. Bush back in August 2005 and “expired” September 30, 2009. The funding level, $286.4 billion, pays for improving and maintaining U.S. surface transportation infrastructure, including the interstate highway system, transit systems around the country, bicycling and pedestrian facilities, and freight rail operations. Most consider that level of funding clearly inadequate.

Since SAFETEA-LU expired, Congress has shown no sign of passing a new five-year reauthorization bill. Instead, Congress has passed a series of short-term extensions, making it virtually impossible for state and local transportation officials to plan for long-term highway and transit improvements.

Pres. Obama hopes for a bi-partisan SAFETEA funding bill in 2011, and has asked Congress for $50 billion in up-front funding. In an Oct. 12, 2010 formal announcement in the Rose Garden, the president announced his U.S. infrastructure plan to build in the next six years 150,000 miles of roads, lay and maintain 4,000 miles of railways and restore 150 miles of runways.


“There are some things we can do to accelerate growth. We’ve got a couple of trillion dollars’ worth of infrastructure improvements that need to be made around the country. I mean, there are construction crews all across the country that are dying for work. And companies that are willing to take a very small profit in order to get work done. And so, for us to say now’s the time for us to rebuild this country and equip ourselves for the 21st century, that’s something that could make a real difference.”—President Obama, responding to Steve Croft on “60 Minutes” (Nov. 7 broadcast) when he asked, “What can you do to create jobs that hasn’t already been done?”

Mr. Obama noted the U.S., as a percentage of GDP, invests less than half of what Russia does on infrastructure, and less than one-third of what Western Europe does.

The Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) is engaged in grassroots advocacy to raise awareness of the need for enactment of a new surface transportation bill.

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November 18, 2019, 10:34 am PDT

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