Two-year transportation bill a win, albeit a short one

By |  July 2, 2012

Lost in the shadow of the Supreme Court’s decision last week to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law was the surprising, bipartisan passage of a transportation bill that will fuel more than $100 billion into America’s roads through 2014.

Considering the presidential election, as well as the 33 Senate elections that will determine whether Congress remains split along party lines or the Republicans take over both chambers, it is surprising Congress managed to get a deal done. Neither party seems to be budging on any issue considering the political change that both parties long for this November, so the fact a surface transportation bill is sitting on the president’s desk for approval this week is a plus for the aggregates industry.

Some transportation bill advocates wanted more than a two-year bill, but considering the do-nothing Congress’ inability to compromise over the last couple years, a two-year bill is better than yet another extension of two or three months.

Since 2009, when the previous transportation bill expired, the bill had been extended nine times. That’s three years of uncertainty for states and their transportation budgets. Now, for the next two years, states will at least know how many funds are at their disposal.

Still, as a representative from the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week, Congress’ compromise in this case is more like “bumping along for the next two years” and “kind of another way for Congress to kick the can down the road.”

James Corless, the representative in this case, is correct in that two years from now, aggregates producers and others who stand to benefit from a truer investment in America’s roads, will once again be lobbying for another two-year commitment, or more, from Congress. For the time being, consider the new transportation bill a victory over the nine extensions between this new bill and the last one.

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