Senate panel approves 6-year highway bill

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel has approved a bill to keep federal highway programs going for six years.

It's a first step toward preventing a disruption in transportation aid to states this summer. The Department of Transportation estimates the trust fund will run out of money on Aug. 29, but disruptions in payments to states could happen as early as July.

The bill passed Thursday by the Environment and Public Works Committee would reauthorize transportation programs at current spending levels, plus inflation. It includes a new program to eliminate bottlenecks that hinder freight transport.

The bill doesn't address the biggest transportation question facing Congress: how to find an extra $100 billion beyond federal Highway Trust Fund revenues to pay for programs. A financing solution is the turf of another Senate committee.