Key Senators have reached agreement on more elements of a two-year, $109-billion highway transit bill. However, attaining that funding level requires identifying $12 billion to add to the amount that the Highway Trust Fund can provide, they acknowledge.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), an architect of the plan, noted at a July 21 hearing that the current authorization expires on Sept. 30. “It's clear that we have to act,” she said. The measure's title will be Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21. But by ENR press time, the bill had not been introduced yet.

The panel's top Republican, James Inhofe (Okla.), backs the plan and agrees it needs to move. “Putting this thing off is not an option,” he says.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) says he is working hard to find the additional $12 billion the envisioned bill needs. Baucus says he feels “fairly confident” of success.

The proposal would boost the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act federal loan and loan-guarantee program to $1 billion a year, from $122 million. It also would consolidate 87 current transportation programs into fewer than 30.