With the appointment of House and Senate conferees for the Federal Highway Bill this week, there’s renewed hope that Congress may be able to pass a bill this year. The House passed an extension of the current federal highway program known as SAFETEA-LU April 18; however, the Senate previously passed a two year bill called MAP-21, or S. 1813, paving the way for the one remaining interstate highway yet to be built in America to be completed. That interstate is I-69, also known as high priority corridors 18 & 20.
However, it won’t be built as a freeway, the Senate has ensured it will built as a foreign-owned tollway using a public private partnership (P3) due to the structural shortfall in traditional road funding encompassed within the bill as well as the reliance on tolling to make-up the shortfall. The House lacked the votes to pass its long-term federal highway bill, HR 7, and opted to pass a straight extension of SAFETEA-LU in order to set-up a conference committee to hash out the differences on a short-term fix.