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Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

At long last, federal highway funding bill passed

After a seemingly endless series of short-term funding patches, Congress passed a long-term transportation funding bill late Thursday that will give states the predictable funding stream they have long been calling for.

The Senate voted 83 to 16 to pass the bipartisan House-Senate transportation conference report, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The legislation is the longest highway funding measure in 17 years, and it provides $305 billion for roads, bridges and transit over five years. The House passed the bill earlier in the day Thursday by an overwhelming vote of 359 to 65.

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice was the only member of Georgia’s delegation to vote against the measure.

Prior to the passage of this legislation, the federal highway trust fund, which comes primarily from federal gas tax collections and funds most state road projects, had been teetering on the edge of insolvency since 2009.

Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry announced in October that federally funded road projects slated to go out for bid in December would be delayed due to uncertainty about when the federal government would be able to provide reimbursements.

The 34 projects were worth $123 million. (For a complete list of projects, click here.) It was not immediately clear on Friday how soon GDOT would be able to reboot the projects now that funding for them is secure.

The legislation now goes to President Barack Obama to be signed into law. Senator James Inhofe, R-OK, Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senator Barbara Boxer, D-CA, ranking member, issued the following statement after the bill's passage:

"We couldn't be more proud of the overwhelming vote today, because this legislation is essential for jobs, for our safety by rebuilding our roads and bridges, and for our economic standing in the world.  We applaud our many colleagues who worked tirelessly alongside our committee through long hours and many negotiations to make this accomplishment happen. The FAST Act has enormous support throughout the country from businesses and workers alike, and we are so pleased that it is now going to the President to be signed into law.”

Read more:

Woodall touts transportation funding in Atlanta visit.

GDOT yanks road projects due to federal funding crisis.

Congress passes three-week highway funding fix.

USDOT warns Georgia of damaging cuts to highway funding.

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