News Stories Archives (2012-2009)

Deficit Reduction Talks May Fuel Gas Tax Increase  December 6, 2012 (Fed Watch) — Leaders of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will try to introduce a new surface transportation bill at the very onset of 2014, according to a committee aid who outlined the expected timeline of the legislation. Read the full story.

Raise Taxes, Avoid the Fiscal Cliff?  November 27, 2012 (U.S. News and World) — A group of natural gas and oil organizations sent a letter to members of Congress Tuesday morning, urging them to think twice before leveling any tax increases on the industry as part of fiscal cliff negotiations. Read the full story.

WHY IT MATTERS: Creaky bridges, potholed roads, tricky politics October 23, 2012 (Washington Post) — From bridges to broadband, America’s infrastructure is supposed to be speeding along commerce, delivering us to work and piping energy and water into our homes and businesses. But just repairing all the breakdowns and potholes would cost tens of billions more than we’re currently spending each year. Read the full story.

MDOT worker: Michigan needs more transparency in awarding state contracts to private firms August 13, 2012 (Michigan Live) — GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Contractors often are employed by government agencies looking to pare down costs during rough economic times. John Eck would tell a different tale.  Eck, a technician with the Michigan Department of Transportation and member of the Service Employees International Union Local 517M, argued in an editorial submitted to that contractors can wind up costing the state more than its own workers would. Read the full story.

Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Plan For Infrastructure Wins Thumbs Up From Mayors July 23, 2012 (Huffington Post) — In a Friday news release, Michael Nutter, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and mayor of Philadelphia, applauded the Chicago Infrastructure Trust for “looking outside the box” for ways to finance transportation improvements. The trust, passed in April by the Chicago City Council, seeks to secure $1.7 billion from private investors to modernize what Mayor Rahm Emanuel has deemed the city’s “crumbling infrastructure.” Read the full story.

State’s Suit Against Designer of 35W Bridge to go Forward May 29, 2012 (Minneapolis Star Tribune) — The state’s lawsuit against the designer of the collapsed Interstate 35W bridge can proceed, officials learned Tuesday. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by California-based Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., linked to the 1960s design of the bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi River in 2007, killing 13 and injuring 145. Read the full story.

House to Vote on Recommending a 31 Percent Cut in Transportation Funding June 1, 2012 (Transportation Issues Daily) — The House has postponed a vote on a provision that would instruct its transportation bill negotiators to insist on reducing funding by nearly 31 percent. It will impact negotiations regardless of the outcome. Read the full story.

Transportation conferees begin talks May 7, 2012 (Politico) — Conferees are convinced this will be a “real conference” in which most issues won’t have to go to leadership, as was the case with parts of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. Read the full story.

Senate approves 90-day highway extension; sending measure to President Obama March 29, 2012 (The Hill) — The Senate approved the extension of federal highway funding that was passed by the House Thursday, accepting a short-term solution leaders in the chamber vehemently opposed.  Read the full story.

House approves 90-day highway bill, dares Senate to reject it March 29, 2012 (The Hill) — The House on Thursday morning approved a 90-day extension of federal highway programs over the objections of angry Democrats, a move that dares Senate Democrats to reject the bill just days before federal authorization expires.  Read the full story.

Fight over transportation bills threatens highway projects March 27, 2012 (CNN) — With just four days left before the federal money runs out for highway construction projects across the country, House Republicans abruptly postponed a vote on a two-month extension Tuesday, throwing into question how a standoff between Senate Democrats and House Republicans over the transportation bill will get resolved.  Read the full story.

Extending SAFETEA-LU, Not Passing Multi-Year Bill, is Now Focus of Congress March 18, 2012 (Transportation Issues Daily) — Congress will now turn its focus to extending SAFETEA-LU (which expires on March 31) and temporarily ignore passing a multi-year bill. No version of the House proposal or the Senate bill is scheduled for action this week or next week. The House has scheduled other legislation for action this week, and next week will be focused on 2013 budget issues.  Read the full story.

Senate Transportation Bill Passes With Bipartisan Support  March 14, 2012 (Huffington Post) — The Senate passed a two-year, $109 billion bipartisan transportation bill in a 74-22 vote Wednesday, handing Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) significant bragging rights in the race to pass election-year job-creation legislation. Now all eyes turn to the House of Representatives and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has struggled to bring his own caucus to terms on a highway bill.  Read the full story.

Transportation Experts Say Its Time To Replace, Or Supplement, Fuel Taxes  November 22, 2011 (CNN) — Drivers often forget that they pay for highway construction and maintenance through federal fuel taxes: 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel. “The notion that the road has ever been free is sort of a self-delusion,” said Neil. But the fuel tax is running out of steam, experts warn, because more efficient vehicles are using less fuel and rising fuel prices discourage driving. As tax revenue falls, so does the nation’s ability to pay for road construction and maintenance.  Read the full story.

Obama Signs USDOT Funding into Law; Highway Limit Reduced Almost $2 Billion  November 18, 2011 (AASHTO Journal) — President Barack Obama signed into law today a spending package that Congress passed Thursday, which includes Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations for the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Read the full story.

Long road for highway bill November 9, 2011 (Politico) — The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is set to mark up a two-year highway and transit bill Wednesday morning, and it should be a breeze. What happens after the markup is the big question.  Read the full story.

Boehner: House Will Move Multiyear Bill by Year’s End November 4, 2011 (AASHTO Journal) — House Republicans will introduce a multiyear surface transportation reauthorization bill “in the coming weeks” and “hope to move the legislation through the House before the end of the year,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Thursday. The bill would expand domestic energy production to pay for transportation infrastructure, with funding levels likely to be at or above current levels.  Read the full story.

Senate Blocks $60 Billion Infrastructure “Jobs Bill”; GOP Counters November 3, 2011 (Transportation Nation) — The Senate blocked a politically-charged $60 billion infrastructure bill Thursday, continuing the partisan stand-off over transportation and jobs.  Read the full story.

Senate to block competing infrastructure plans November 3, 2011 (Associated Press) — President Barack Obama’s campaign-style drive for another batch of economic stimulus spending is facing defeat yet again at the hands of Republicans in the Senate.  Read the full story.

Mica Defends Spending Level of Transport Plan  November 2, 2011 (Journal of Commerce) — House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) defended his six-year transportation plan from accusations that the bill wouldn’t maintain current funding levels as he claimed.  Read the full story.

Representative Hoyer pushes back on GOP highway bill claims October 25, 2011 (The Hill) — House Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) pushed back on Republican efforts to paint their version of a new federal highway bill as a “jobs bill” even as President Obama chides GOP lawmakers for not quickly approving his transportation spending measure.  Read the full story.

Governor Snyder to Propose Gas Tax Change October 25, 2011 ( — The Michigan Governor will propose eliminating the state’s 19 cent per gallon fuel tax in favor of a new tax on the wholesale price of gas during a planned speech Wednesday. Read the full story.

State agency paid consultants $1 billion for road projects October 22, 2011 ( — The South Carolina Department of Transportation has paid consultants $1 billion to design roads, bridges and perform other tasks during the past 25 years – instead of doing the work itself, records show.  Read the full story.

GOP pitches transportation bill as jobs program  October 24, 2011 (Associated Press) — House Republicans are pitching a six-year transportation construction plan as a major jobs bill that can win bipartisan approval before next year’s election, a key GOP lawmaker said Monday.  Read the full story.

Transportation’s future a rocky road October 24, 2011 (Politico) — Transportation experts said the federal highway and transit program needs two big changes — major systemic reforms and a large increase in funding. Problem is, you can’t have one without the other.  Read the full story.

Transportation lobby hopes for new stimulus September 28, 2011 (Politico) — The transportation construction lobby — not exactly the sexiest special interest in Washington — is nonetheless primed to pave Capitol Hill with an aggressive campaign aimed at scoring what could be a massive stimulus for the struggling industry.  Read the full story.

Obama signs highway funding, FAA extension September 16, 2011 (The Hill) — After an unexpected second round of congressional squabbling over funding for the Federal Aviation Administration and highway programs, President Obama has signed the bill passed by lawmakers this week to extend both through next year.  Read the full story.

Coburn, Reid continue their fight on Senate floor over FAA, highway funding September 15, 2011 (The Hill) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) on Wednesday evening continued their fight over a bill that would extend the funding of the Federal Aviation Administration beyond Friday, with each saying the other could end the impasse that threatens to force another round of furloughs at the beleaguered agency. Read the full story.

House Prepares to Vote on Extension September 13, 2011 (DC Streets Blog) — In a couple of hours, the House will vote on the transportation extension bill – under unanimous consent rules. That means a single vote in opposition could delay passage. Read the full story.

House and Senate Agree on 6-Month Transportation Extension September 12, 2011 (DC Streets Blog) — Just days after a Senate committee asked the full chamber to consider a four-month extension of SAFETEA-LU, new negotiations have replaced that idea with a six-month extension at current spending levels. The bill also extends the gas tax.  Read the full story.

Boxer Files Highway Trust Fund Extension September 6, 2011 (Journal of Commerce) — Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, filed legislation extending Highway Trust Fund programs until the end of the year, heeding President Obama’s call for “clean” extensions of critical transportation funding programs.  Read the full story.

Why Might a SAFETEA-LU Extension Be Delayed? September 5, 2011 (Transportation Issues Daily) — The federal highway/transit bill expires at midnight September 30.  If political differences prevent result in the legislation expiring (presumably for only a short period of time), thousands of private sector construction workers could be furloughed as highway and transit projects across the country are shut down.  Read the full story.

Obama Pushes Transportation Bills August 31, 2011 (Politico) — President Barack Obama called Wednesday for Congress to quickly pass bills to continue funding highways and air travel, saying it would be “unacceptable” and “inexcusable” for Washington politics to lead to the loss of as many as a million jobs.  Read the full story.

Hurricane Irene Exposes Creaky American Infrastructure August 30, 2011 (Huffington Post) — In the winter of 1992, a nor’easter sent a storm surge over the floodwall guarding the southern tip of Manhattan. Seawater quickly overwhelmed major roadways and New York City’s subway system, shutting down the entire subway for nearly 10 days.  Read the full story.

Boxer Expected to Push Highway Programs Extension  August 22, 2011 (Journal of Commerce) — Sen. Barbara Boxer, whose Environment and Public Works Committee takes the lead in drafting surface transportation legislation, is expected to propose extending current highway and transit programs so they do not expire September 3.  Read the full story.

Congress Will Need to Address Transportation Legislation, Gas Tax After Recess August 22, 2011 ( — With Congressional leaders at home for the August recess and unemployment numbers still high, advocates are stepping up the pressure for action on a new transportation bill that will put people back to work and get the economy moving.  Read the full story.

Legislative Prospects for the Transportation Bill: An Update August 22, 2011 (Infrastructure USA) — The continuing stalemate over FAA funding offers a foretaste of what awaits us in September when Congress will get down to discussing the transportation bill. Only the stakes will be much higher and the consequences of a deadlock much more serious. That is the sober assessment offered by seasoned Washington observers on both sides of the political divide.  Read the full story.

White House Wants To Jump-Start Highway Bill August 20, 2011 (NewsCore) — The White House and congressional Democrats are working on a plan to jump-start passage of a stalled highway bill as the administration reworks part of its strategy for responding to high unemployment, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.  Read the full story.

Transportation deadlock worries states  August 17, 2011 ( — When federal lawmakers return to Capitol Hill next month, one of their first assignments will be the normally routine task of finding money for better roads and rails. But given Congress’ recent track record of letting seemingly mundane matters build to a crisis, transportation experts are keeping a wary eye on Washington.  Read the full story.

Obama: Tell Congress to ‘get past differences and send me’ highway bill August 11, 2011 (The Hill) — Voters in Michigan and other states should pressure Congress to pass a federal highway bill, President Obama said Thursday during a speech at a car battery plant in Michigan. Read the full story.

Gas-tax issue could be the next political fight August 9, 2011 (The Hill) — After watching a two-week shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, transportation advocates and congressional staffers are concerned that the federal gas tax could become the next confrontational issue that Democrats and Republicans push to the brink.  Read the full story.

Threat to End Federal Fuel Taxes Concerns Transportation Officials  August 9, 2011 (Transport Topics) — Faced with the expiration in September of federal transportation taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, highway advocates say they are increasingly worried that the anti-tax, anti-government rancor that characterized the debt ceiling battle could endanger the nation’s transportation system.  Read the full story.

Reid: Senate should act on highway bill after break  August 2, 2011 (Reuters) — The Senate should take up legislation laying out how much money the country will spend on roads, bridges and highways when it returns from its month-long recess, Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Tuesday.  Read the full story.

Debt Deal Could Mean More Painful Cuts for Transportation August 1, 2011 ( — The House and Senate are getting close to voting on a deal, reached over the weekend, to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending.  Read the full story.

How Might Transportation Funding be Impacted by Debt Deal?

August 1, 2011 (Transportation Issues Daily)  — Whether by the hands of the new fiscal commission or through the alternative automatic cuts, federal transportation funding is going to decline dramatically compared to recent years.  The Senate transportation proposal, which counted on a $12 billion infusion of general funding, suddenly looks just a little less attainable.  So too is the prospect of a better-funded bill in two years, if Congress doesn’t pass a bill this year.  Read the full story.

What does the debt ceiling deal mean for transportation? August 1, 2011 (Transportation for America) — With just hours to spare before the deadline, the House, Senate and President Obama have agreed (in principle) on an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. While the details of that agreement are circulating in the media, the implications for the ongoing efforts to reauthorize the transportation bill — as well as funding for current programs over the next year or two — are a bit murky.  Read the full story.

House GOP expected to ax transportation funds July 5, 2011 (Washington Post) — The next flash point in the debate over the nation’s will to live within its means may emerge this week as House Republicans present a long-term transportation bill expected to cut funding for highways and mass transit by almost one third. Read the full story.

LaHood: Administration Not in Favor of Taxing Drivers by the Mile May 25, 2011 ( —Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was adamant in telling on Wednesday that the Obama administration does not favor tracking and taxing Americans for every mile they drive–a so-called Vehicular Miles Traveled (VMT) tax.  Read the full story.

House Approves Rules Change That Could Lead to Reduced Highway & Transit Investment  January 7, 2011 (AASHTO Journal) — The House of Representatives, assembling Wednesday for the first day of the 112th Congress, adopted a rule change that will make it easier to reduce highway and transit spending in legislation moving through the chamber.  Read the full story.

2010 News Archive

Democrats Choose Rahall for Transportation  The House Democratic Caucus on Thursday named Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  Read the full story. December 16, 2010 (Journal of Commerce Online) — Vice chairman under Oberstar to become ranking member in 112th Congress

US Rep John Mica Named Transportation Committee ChairmanRead the full story. December 8, 2010 (Dow Jones) WASHINGTON — Florida Republican John Mica will head the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee when the new Congress convenes in January. The party’s selection of Mica, currently the committee’s ranking Republican, came as no surprise Wednesday and puts him in a key role. President Barack Obama has said he wants to pass a $50 billion infrastructure-spending bill next year as well as long-term transportation plan, and each measure would likely be crafted by Mica’s committee.

Governors Urge Senate Committees Not to Restrict States’ Use of PPPs October 1, 2010 (AASHTO Journal) – The National Governors Association sent a letter Tuesday to the leadership of three Senate committees urging the preservation of state authority to pursue public/private partnership opportunities in an upcoming reauthorization of federal surface transportation policy.  Click here to read the full article.

Budget Office Sees Highway Fund Secure to 2013 September 1, 2010 (Journal of Commerce) Washington D.C. — The Congressional Budget Office is drawing the attention of transportation policy experts with an upbeat estimate that the nation’s Highway Trust Fund should be able to cover its projected spending needs into fiscal 2013. Click here to read article.

Firm to pay $52.4m in Minn. bridge collapse August 24, 2010 (The Boston Globe) MINNEAPOLIS — After enduring countless surgeries and hours of court hearings, victims of the deadly 2007 Interstate 35W bridge collapse reached the end of their legal fight after an engineering firm agreed to pay $52.4 million to settle scores of lawsuits. Click here to read article.

URS Agrees to Pay $52.4M To Settle Claims From Minn. Bridge Collapse August 23, 2010 (Engineering News-Record) MINNEAPOLIS — For victims and survivors of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, the legal odyssey ended Monday with the announcement that engineering giant URS Corp. agreed to pay $52.4 million to settle claims from the 2007 disaster that claimed 13 lives and injured 145.  Click here to read the article.

Obama Nixes Gas Hike, Fees July 26, 2010 (The Bond Buyer) – The Obama administration is opposed to a gasoline tax increase or mileage fee to generate revenue for the next multi-year transportation bill, but would support a number of public and private options including bond-related financing, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday.  Click here to read full story.

LaHood Says No Fuel Tax Increase Needed for Transport July 23, 2010 (The Journal of Commerce) — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said a combination of current-level gas tax receipts, road and bridge tolling and President Obama’s proposed infrastructure fund could offer a way to fund a long-term federal infrastructure program without new taxes. Click here to read article.

House Appropriations Subcommittee Approves $4 Billion Increase in Highway Funding  July 2, 2010 (AASHTO Journal) – Federal-aid highway projects would see a $4 billion funding boost for Fiscal Year 2011 under legislation passed Thursday by the House transportation appropriations subcommittee. Click here to read article.

VOINOVICH SOLICITS OBAMA TO HELP PASS HIGHWAY BILL June 22, 2010 (The Columbus Dispatch) – Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio, welcomed President Barack Obama to Ohio on Friday — but had a small request. Click here to read article.

OBERSTAR POINTS TO ROAD PROBLEM:  A SHORTAGE OF FEDERAL GAS-TAX REVENUE June 17, 2010 ( – The problem is simple, says Rep. Jim Oberstar, who chairs the House Transportation Committee: There simply isn’t enough money coming in through the federal gas tax right now to meet the nation’s current needs for road and bridge repairs. Click here to read article.

THE FEDERAL SURFACE TRANSPORTATION PROGRAM GETS A NEW LEASE ON LIFE March 25, 2010 (Innovation Newbriefs) – The HIRE Act (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, H.R. 2847, P.L 111-147), signed by the President on March 18, has placed the federal surface transportation program on a firm footing and taken the pressure off the lawmakers and the White House to come up with a more permanent solution — at least for a while. While efforts to develop a long-term transportation strategy are expected to continue for the remainder of this year, Congress and the White House are likely to take their time enacting a multi-year legislation. This is the near-unanimous judgment of informed congressional observers and Washington insiders whom we consulted over the last several days.  Click here to read article.


Watch for future key alerts as jobs legislation advances in Congress. Due to the immediate concerns over the Senate bill, the House will not clear the package by the end of the week. Therefore, House and Senate leaders have put together a 30 day transportation extension to avoid a shut-down of the programs on March 1.  The short-term extension bill (H.R. 4691) will buy both chambers more time to iron out the details of H.R. 2847, while keeping highway funds flowing. The bill now goes to the House which will decide whether to pass the Senate version or go to conference to reconcile the bill with their $154 billion jobs package. Many House Democrats have raised concerns over the bill based on its smaller size, and members of both parties have voiced serious objections to the way the highway section of the bill was written. The formula in the Senate version would benefit highway projects in California, Illinois, Louisiana, and Washington by giving those states $532 million of the $932 million dedicated to the two highway programs in the bill. Twenty-two states would not receive any funding from the formula and the remaining states would receive far less than the four. The $15 billion Senate-passed bill includes an extension of surface transportation programs through the end of 2010, and would allow an additional transfer of $19 billion from the General Fund into the depleted Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Because the $19 billion is a transfer from the government’s general fund into the HTF, it does not count towards the total stated “cost” of the bill. Without the $19 billion transfer, the highway account of the Highway Trust Fund will fall below the $4 billion threshold in May and completely run out of money in August. February 26, 2010 ( – The Senate this week passed its version of a jobs package (H.R. 2847) by a vote of 70 – 28. Thirteen Republicans joined Democrats to return the bill to the House, which passed its version of jobs legislation in December.  However, controversy over funding allocations has complicated plans to pass the legislation in the House.

2009 News Archive

Federal Highway & Transit Programs Extended Through February  The 72-day extension (contained in HR 3326) became Public Law 111-118 on Dec. 19 following Obama’s signature and the Senate’s vote of 88-10 earlier Dec. 19 to adopt the measure. This is the longest SAFETEA-LU extension to date. The first extension covered the month of October and the second extension was good for 48 days, expiring Dec. 18. Click here to read article December 30, 2009 (AASHTO Journal) – President Barack Obama signed into law last week a Department of Defense appropriations bill that includes an extension of highway and transit authorization through February — the third short-term extension since the 2005 transportation law known as “SAFETEA-LU” expired Sept. 30.


Click here to read article. March 4, 2009 ( – President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the U.S. government was paying too much for things it did not need and ordered a crackdown on spending he declared “plagued by massive cost overruns and outright fraud.”

Obama unveils 21st Century New Deal December 6, 2008 ( – President-elect Barack Obama added sweep and meat to his economic agenda on Saturday, pledging the largest new investment in roads and bridges since President Dwight D. Eisenhower built the Interstate system in the late 1950s, and tying his key initiatives – education, energy, health care –back to jobs in a package that has the makings of a smaller and modern version of FDR’s New Deal marriage of job creation with infrastructure upgrades. Click to read article.

For New Transportation Secretary, a Hard Road Ahead November 25, 2009 (The Washington Post) – The next transportation secretary will walk into an agency that oversees an outdated air traffic control system; congested roads, rails and skies; crumbling highways and bridges; and a financing system teetering on collapse.  Click to read article.