30 Day Extension Approved For US Highway Program

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) agreed last week to stop blocking the legislation that would extend the Federal Highway Program. The Senate approved the 30 day extension, allowing state transportation agencies to resume construction projects that had been shut down.

State officials said the short-term shutdown caused problems for state transportation agencies by delaying completion of projects as well as lettings of contracts for new projects. Bunning’s objections also forced the Transportation Department to furlough 2,000 employees.

Missouri DOT Director Pete Rahn said that the state already had canceled millions of dollars in construction contracts because of the shutdown. Had the senate not approved the extension, Missouri and other states would have been forced to “consider the suspension of ongoing contracts,” he said.

Rahn added that if the shutdown had continued much longer, state DOTs were at risk of “losing our construction season in the northern tier of this country.”

FMCSA spokeswoman Candice Tolliver said the impact of the furlough on the FMCSA’s operations “cannot be underestimated.” Because of the shutdown, Tolliver said, FMCSA “suspended important work on rulemakings that address distracted driving, electronic on-board recorders, hours of service and activities supporting its new safety measurement system, the Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010. Other disrupted activities include(d) the registration and licensing of new carriers and oversight of household goods moving companies.”

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