Senate Set to Extend SAFETEA-LU

Senate Set to Extend SAFETEA-LU

Senators are expected within the next two weeks to introduce legislation to sustain surface transportation spending, John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highways and Transportation Officials, said Tuesday.

Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, told industry representatives that they will offer two measures, Horsley said. One will extend the existing transportation program known as SAFETEA-LU through the end of calendar 2010. The second will transfer $20 billion from general revenue to the Highway Trust Fund to keep it solvent.

Horsley said the two measures will likely appear as part of a larger tax package that the Senate will consider. The Senate is also working on a jobs program “in which transportation investment is expected to be a major component.”

Horsley said he didn’t know how much of the jobs package would go to surface transportation, but he hoped that it would be close to the $27.5 billion for highway and $8.4 billion for transit that the House approved in December.

AASHTO released a report on the first anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Horsley said that $23.8 billion of the $26 billion for highway projects had been obligated by states for construction projects. States also obligated $7.2 billion of the $8.4 billion that the recovery act dedicated to transit. All told, states launched 11,000 projects employing 280,000 people. Thirty percent of the projects came in under engineers’ estimates.

“We’re delivering value,” Horsley said. “Thousands of projects have been delivered. The states’ success in delivering on the Recovery Act highway and transit dollars is quite remarkable.”

Contact R.G. Edmonson at bedmonson@joc.com.