Stop-And-Go Federal Highway Funding Could Get The Green Light

Sep 14, 2015

Credit Amanda Vinicky

It's been years since the last long-term federal transportation program. But with Congress back in session Tuesday, Illinois' senior U-S Senator is making a push for it to get done by the end of the month.

Federal transportation projects have been stuck in stop and go traffic.

Lawmakers pass a temporary authorization, allowing construction to move ahead until the red-light of a deadline; then another temporary measure, another stop … and go ... and stop ... and go.

Standing alongside Interstate 72 in Springfield, Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said "Imagine that you decided you wanted to buy a home and you went to the local bank and they said 'we're going to give you a mortgage for six months. You'd say to yourself: 'Wait a minute! This is a long-term commitment. I need long-term financing.' That's what's happening here.

When we have these short-term extensions in the highway trust fund, state and localities can't make big plans for moving forward."

A bipartisan faction approved a multi-year plan in the Senate, and Durbin says the House has promised to get it done by September 30th. But projections that the previous stop-gap measure will keep money flowing longer than expected could once again stall efforts.

Durbin says a major challenge has been where to find the money: the highway fund is less flush now that more fuel-efficient cars have cut into what the government gets from gasoline taxes.