Deery says that action on related
bills is promising for the surface
transportation bill's future.

WASHINGTON, DC-A key piece of legislation is showing signs of life in Congress and the Associated General Contractors of America is moving post haste to push it over the finish line. That legislation is the years overdue surface transportation bill that sets funding levels for federal investments in highway, bridge and transit construction. Since the bill expired in late 2009, Congress has been passing short-term funding extensions, which has made it difficult for transportation planners to move forward on projects because they don’t know how much long-term funding will be available.

“We have seen action on related bills in the House and Senate–movement that we haven’t seen in a long time,” Brian Deery, senior director of the Highway Transportation Division at the association, tells about developments in recent weeks.

March 31st is the date at which the latest extension for the funding authorization expires. “We intend to put as much pressure, via our own lobbying and grass roots action, as possible on Congress between now and then,” Deery says.

The momentum is very positive in the Senate, he adds. The House, as well, is moving forward, with plans to mark up the legislation in the first week of February and then bring it to the floor later in the month.

The association is contacting its members to urge them to contact their own Congressional representatives. It is also working with local groups representing the business and labor communities to have them make the case for new transportation investments. Indeed, as a number of reports have shown over the years, the US’ infrastructure is in dire need of a long-term investment plan. “This is an issue important to every city and every building community in the US,” Deery says. “We need some long-term certainty around these investments.”