When it comes to transportation funding, Mono County, much like the rest of the country, is waiting for the other shoe to drop, and they could be waiting for another three months.
At press time, the U.S. House of Representatives had still failed to pass a transportation measure that was approved by the Senate on March 14. Current federal transportation funding expires March 31.
According to most news outlets, including www.washingtonpost.com, the House is expected to pass a 90-day temporary extension of federal transportation funding. Without either a passage of a transportation bill or a stop-gap extension many transportation programs would be suspended and jobs put at risk.
According to Florene Trainor, Public Information Officer for Caltrans District 9, the Eastern Sierra’s local district, “with a three-month extension everything will remain status quo. We don’t know how it [the transportation bill] will affect Mono County because nothing has passed.”
This seems to be the consensus across the nation. Leaders don’t know what non-passage means exactly for their areas, but passage provides the long-term assurance of funding that they seek.
According to the Sacramento Bee, “Lawmakers generally pass a transportation bill lasting five or six years – because states and localities need certainty to plan for multiyear projects. The last transportation bill passed in 2005 and expired in 2009.”
Congress has extended that 2005 law eight times. The latest extension expires March 31.
*Breaking news. Congress passed a 9th extension Thursday, which will be good for 90 days, or through June 30.
While the Senate was unable to pass a five or six year bill, it was able to agree upon a two-year bill called MAP-21, or Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.
“The Senate’s two-year bill, while not ideal, would provide states stability through the end of 2013. It also would give lawmakers a year to work on long-term funding for national transportation priorities,” added the Sacramento Bee article.
Locally, the funding, according to Trainor, is used for things such as maintenance on highway systems, new construction, bridges, as well as pedestrian and bicycle projects. Jobs attached to these types of projects would therefore also be affected.
According to Trainor, if the House were to approve MAP-21, transportation funding would continue as it has, with adjustments for inflation, for two fiscal years.