Feds warn against infrastructure funding complacency

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is warning lawmakers against becoming complacent after the revelation that federal infrastructure funding is scheduled to last six months longer than previously expected.

Lawmakers are facing an Oct. 29 deadline for renewing the law that allows infrastructure spending, but the Transportation Department said recently that it has enough money to cover payments to states for transportation projects until June 2016. Previously, the $8 billion extension that was passed by Congress in July for the beleaguered highway fund was thought to include only enough money to last until the end of this year.

Transportation advocates have worried that the reported extra cushion could give lawmakers cover to pass another temporary extension of federal highway funding instead of finishing work on a multiyear transportation bill, which has been sought by infrastructure supporters for years.

Foxx said on the Transportation Department’s website that lawmakers should not take their foot off the gas pedal now that they might have some extra time to complete a long-term highway bill. “Given the volatility of revenues and expenditures and the uncertainty of very micro-level projections, DOT must consider employing methods to conserve cash once the balance of the highway account falls below a prudent threshold,” Foxx explained.

“This is not the time to get complacent about the health of the Highway Trust Fund,” Foxx continued. “And with only a little more than six weeks remaining until October 29, it is not the time to surrender the urgency of our fight for a long-term transportation bill that truly meets our infrastructure needs.”

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