Coalitions pushing Hill to act on new highway funds

WASHINGTON: The transportation and construction industries are ramping up efforts this month to keep the funding of America's highways high on the list of congressional priorities.

WASHINGTON: The transportation and construction industries are ramping up efforts this month to keep the funding of America's highways high on the list of congressional priorities.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, a six-year bill that provides major funding for the construction and maintenance of US roads, bridges, and tunnels, will expire on September 30 if Congress doesn't act. Efforts to reauthorize the bill before the August recess stalled, and higher priorities like Iraq and energy infrastructure now dominate the fall legislative calendar.

But a handful of powerful coalitions, including the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the Transportation Construction Coalition, and the US Chamber of Commerce's Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM), are using aggressive media pushes to light a fire under the issue.

"Construction spending creates jobs, and America's highway needs are tremendous," said Dennis Day, executive director of the AGC. "We're just trying to create some movement on Capitol Hill."

The AGC is doing that by combining in-house lobbying efforts with a media campaign - run by recently hired Qorvis Communications - that will frame the issue as one of jobs creation and national security.

ATM is also turning up the volume on a paid media campaign it has been running throughout the summer. "This month we are focusing on a Washington, DC print and radio ad campaign," said executive director Ed Mortimer.

Day declined to disclose the terms of the contract with Qorvis, characterizing it only

as "short term."

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