Turmail adds, "With public-sector demand already declining and private-sector demand for construction still very weak, allowing the highway program to expire would be devastating for many firms." 

The cost of federally aided highway projects is split, with Uncle Sam usually covering 80% of the total cost and states contributing the rest.

But states typically put up their own funds for a project's total cost and then later seek reimbursement in installments from the Federal Highway Administration for the 80% federal share as the projects proceed and contractors submit bills for phases completed. 

Martinovich, who also is AASHTO's current president, says she would be unable to put new projects out for bid without knowing whether they will be funded. Moreover, she says, "Projects that are currently under construction may need to be shut down," because FHWA won't be able to reimburse the state for the money it advanced.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock says his agency plans to award contracts for about $450 million in federal aid for road and bridge projects from September through December.

However, Hancock says, "Every one of those projects is in jeopardy because we have no assurance that federal funding is going to be in place to pay the bills on those projects when those bills come due."

Hancock says his agency is watching Congress closely. He adds, "Do we have confidence that Congress will take care of everything they need to take care of in the 11 days? I look back a couple of weeks, and my confidence is shaken."

That's apparently a reference to the dispute over the aviation bill and maybe also to lawmakers' averting a default on federal debt obligations shortly before the Aug. 2 deadline.