Six-year transportation bill still possible and needed, AASHTO says

| 10/3/2003

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials wants Congress to quickly draft a full-scale reauthorization of highway and transit programs, saying further delay is sure to postpone badly needed projects and cause the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

Utah DOT Executive Director John Njord, AASHTO president, made his remarks at a news briefing Oct. 1.

At issue is the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, which officially expired Sept. 30 and prompted a temporary five-month extension to keep projects in the states from being cut off.

“While we appreciate the fact that Congress did not allow the federal transportation programs to come to a standstill, we must still make it clear that every day of delay in enacting a well-funded, multi-year reauthorization bill comes with costs," Njord said.

"Those costs are project delays that increase price tags on infrastructure, lost jobs and a further burden on states already reeling under budget crises that have cut transportation investments in the states by $4.3 billion in FY 2004."

A recent AASHTO survey of its state DOT membership showed that most responding states expected to delay at least some projects in the absence of a multiyear federal reauthorization. Although only 18 of the more than 40 states responding to the survey quantified the potential costs, those 18 states pegged the project cost of delay at $2.1 billion, with resulting losses of 90,000 jobs.