Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
2009 Transportation Bill

Could Congress Let States (Start to) Lose $8.7 Billion in Road Money?

The short answer: Maybe.

13MVC-013L_1.JPG(Photo: USGS.gov)

As Congress rushed to give itself one more month to break the House-Senate stalemate over federal transportation policy, one matter was left unattended -- the $8.7 billion in un-obligated highway aid that's scheduled to start evaporating on Thursday unless lawmakers act to correct the matter.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK), the senior Republican on the environment committee, issued a frustrated press release today warning that his state would lose 1,350 jobs if the $8.7 billion were not reinserted by the Senate before the 2005 transportation law expires tomorrow night.

But time is running out; although environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) promised in July that she would prevent the $8.7 billion from being rescinded, that was before House infrastructure committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) secured passage of a short-term transportation law extension that did not address the highway money.

Under House rules that require new spending to be offset, Oberstar's short-term measure would have had to find a way to raise the $8.7 billion in road money -- and instead of tackling that tough question, the bill didn't address it.

Governors and highway officials are lobbying fiercely to prevent the money from being revoked, but a resolution may not come before the Senate takes up the House's one-month transportation stopgap. The U.S. DOT would then have to resort to creative measures to prevent states from canceling projects, with about $1 billion per month potentially on the chopping block, according to the road lobby.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Talking Headways Podcast: Charging Up Transportation

This week, we talk to the great Gabe Klein, executive director of President Biden's Joint Office of Energy and Transportation (and a former Streetsblog board member), about curbside electrification.

April 18, 2024

Why Does the Vision Zero Movement Stop At the Edge of the Road?

U.S. car crash deaths are nearly 10 percent higher if you count collisions that happen just outside the right of way. So why don't off-road deaths get more air time among advocates?

April 18, 2024

Donald Shoup: Here’s a Parking Policy That Works for the People

Free parking has a veneer of equality, but it is unfair. Here's a proposal from America's leading parking academic that could make it more equitable.

April 18, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines Turn Up the Heat

Whether you realize it or not, climate change is here, and not just in the form of natural disasters.

April 18, 2024

Calif. Legislators Tackle AV, School Zone Safety

Are AVs freight trucks ready to be deployed on California roads with no one in them?

April 17, 2024
See all posts