In a move that will provide some stability for transportation construction, President Obama has signed legislation to extend federal highway and transit programs through Sept. 30, the last day of the 2011 fiscal year.

Obama signed the measure on March 4, the date on which a previous short stopgap was slated to expire.

Final congressional approval of the bill came on March 3, when the Senate passed it on a voice vote. The House had approved the measure one day earlier.

The bill is the seventh stopgap highway-transit authorization since Sept. 30, 2009, when the last multi-year statute, the 2005 SAFETEA-LU law, expired.

Construction and state transportation officials would have strongly preferred to see Congress approve a much longer bill, but the new extension provides more funding predictability than the previous six short stopgaps did.

John Horsley, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' executive director, told ENR, "Seven months of certainty is crucial for delivering dollars through projects."

Horsley says the new extension also gives the House and Senate a "window of certainty" to allow lawmakers to "focus on drafting the legislation to fund the program long term."