It's looking like there will be more delays on the long-suffering surface transportation measure. House leaders say they need another three months to hammer out their own long-term bill, even though the Senate has passed its two-year, $109 billion version. (Look for a lot of sniping in the Capitol this week when the three-month stopgap extension is being tossed back and forth between the House and the Senate.)
In practical terms, the delays simply mean more uncertainty for state and city transportation departments and the construction and contracting industries. "The short-term extensions just don't permit us at the federal, state or local level to do any kind of the effective planning for construction that we really need to do," Ashley Swearengin, the Republican Mayor of Fresno, California. "Any kind of short-term extension would really doom our chances for a longer agreement this year."
"We've already lost the construction season. The dithering has led to states delaying decisions," said American Road and Transportation Builders Association President Pete Ruane.
The agitation is understandable, but it's nothing new. This has been the story of the federal highway authority for three years now, with states and cities limping along under temporary extensions. They sound a little bit like the teenager who sat behind me at a Washington Nationals baseball game, who repeatedly said, "This sucks." (To be fair, the kid was right. They played badly.)
Now is your chance to tell us your sob stories. What projects are being put on hold while lawmakers dither? How is the uncertainty affecting business, private investment, or even traffic? How many jobs are on the line? How much longer can you hold out with things as they are? Give us details, anecdotes, data, or just plain rants.