Tick-Tock Goes the Gridlock Clock

Remember the digital National Debt Clock? Now we’ve got an online Transportation Gridlock Clock, thanks to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. It’s right on the home page of the association’s Web site.

The gridlock clock tells us just how long it’s been since the last multi-year surface transportation funding bill expired — as of Jan. 13, 834 days. The clock goes farther than that, counting down the hours, minutes and seconds since SAFETEA-LU.

Since that law expired Sept. 30, 2009, federal highway and transit programs have operated under eight extensions. The current extension expires March 31, and a new multi-year highway bill is still many seconds, minutes, hours and days away.

Perhaps ARTBA’s clock should be called the Congressional Gridlock Clock, as Congress is the crux point in the debate over infrastructure funding. Of course, a Congressional GridlockClock would have to be reset to include decades, not just years or days.

We’re at the point where even long-time proponents of increased infrastructure spending such as U.S.Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue would accept the 2005 spending levels of SAFETEA-LU — about $48 billion a year.

On Thursday, Donohue said Congress should pass a long-term bill that mirrors the six-year SAFETEA-LU, rather than even more stripped-down transportation spending measures proposed by some members of the House and Senate.

If you’re tired of waiting for a new bill, ARTBA includes a toll-free hot-line number that you can call to urge your representatives and senators to pass new legislation — 888-448-2782. In the meantime, the gridlock clock and the debt clock will keep right on ticking.

Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wbcassidy_joc

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