With the start of the prime road-building season drawing near, the House has approved legislation that would extend federal highway and transit programs through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

The next step is action by the Senate, which is expected to pass the roughly seven-month-long measure soon.

The bill would be the seventh stopgap highway-transit authorization since Sept. 30, 2009, when the last multi-year statute expired. The current extension is scheduled to lapse on March 4.

Construction and state transportation officials would have strongly preferred to see Congress approve a new long-term bill, but the seven-month extension provides more certainty than the previous six short stopgaps.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's top Democrat, Nick J. Rahall (W.Va.) said, "A delay in enactment of this extension will shut down more than $800 million next week in highway reimbursements and transit grants to states and urban areas, endangering more than 28,000 jobs and multi-million dollar construction projects across the country."