The US interstate system encompasses 46,876 miles of road and the Department of Transportation's 2014 bridge database found that there were 61,064 "compromised bridges" in the U.S. that handle 215 million crossings a day. These roads and bridges carry us to work and back, connect us with friends and loved ones, and are vital to the economic health of our economy.
Yet, Congress still has not found/agreed upon a funding source to ensure that work on our roads and bridges continues after August 1 when the 33rd extension of the funding authorization for the program expires. That means in less than two weeks, unless Congress puts aside its partisan differences and agrees to a funding formula, they will need to pass the 34th short-term funding extension. Kicking highway funding down the road does nothing but exacerbate the problem. It certainly doesn't make a solution any less expensive, and we know it does nothing to make our roads and bridges any safer or less congested.
The House Leadership just announced there will be no consideration of the 12 appropriations bills that must be passed by September 30 until they work out a way to address the Confederate flag and its display in the U.S. Capitol complex. Given that the House is only scheduled to be in for session for 10 days in September prior to the beginning of the next fiscal year, highway will be given the short end of the stick yet again if they don't solve the funding question before they adjourn for August.
This Congress has shown they can find solutions to difficult problems when the pressure is on. After all, they passed the Trade Promotion Authority bill, they found a solution to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) for doctors' payments that had eluded Congress for the past two decades, and for the first time in six years, they adopted a concurrent budget resolution. But it is up to all of us to let them know that their usual "my way or the highway" approach isn't acceptable when it comes to America's roads and bridges.
So we all need to pick up our phones, power up our computers and limber up our texting fingers and let our House and Senate members know that it is past time to end this "extension-palooza" as U.S. Secretary of Transportation Foxx has called it. Congress needs to work together to produce a long-term funding solution now -- not next week, next month or next year -- for our sprawling transportation system.