Federal highway payments in jeopardy; local projects at risk

Federal highway payments in jeopardy without transportation bill.

WASHINGTON (AP) – House and Senate Republicans acknowledged Tuesday a long-term highway deal is out of reach for now, and embraced a three-month extension that will punt yet another messy fight into the fall. The deadline to implement the deal comes at midnight Friday when the authority for the Department of Transportation to process aid payments to states will expire.

The House is expected to take up the short-term, $8 billion bill, before leaving town for an August recess.

Valley residents have seen trust fund money at work with projects to improve Route and Route 224 in Canfield.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the federal fund gives about $1.4 billion dollars every year to Ohio’s bridge and highway projects. That’s more than 30 percent of the state’s transportation budget.

Any defunding of the highway trust fund would cut off the money that is needed for hundreds of projects across Ohio. And the same would go for Pennsylvania.

Congress is expected to punt the issue until October. That’s when they would pick up the debate again on a six-year bill for federal funding.

“This three-month extension represents the compromise that allows the House more time,” said Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as House leaders retreated on plans for a five-month bill they hoped the Senate would go along with.

The extension sets up another potential standoff for the fall, a timeframe that already has all the makings for a major showdown between congressional Republicans and the White House over government spending levels and other issues, with a government shutdown threatening if a resolution is not reached.

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