States and construction companies forced to cope with stopgap federal bills that provided transportation funding on the installment plan now have a bit more breathing room. The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, signed into law on March 18, includes yet another highway-transit extension. But this one stretches through December, and these days, that almost qualifies as a long-term bill. State and industry officials would much rather have a multiyear measure, but in this election-shortened year, the nine-month bill appears to be the best they will get.
The HIRE Act has several positive provisions for construction, most of them focused on transportation. Besides authorizing highway and transit programs through Dec. 31, the new statute adds $19.5 billion to strengthen the unsteady Highway Trust Fund and also restores highway funding to its 2009 level.