Kansas City Star Editorial: Don't Turn Highway Bill Into a Hostage

At the end of next month, federal fuel taxes - 18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel - will expire.

Motorists inclined to cheer should consider what happened when the Federal Aviation Administration’s authorization expired this summer, forcing a partial shutdown. Projects were disrupted and thousands of construction workers idled.

Unless Congress acts quickly, the same could happen on a larger scale with the highway program, although it would take longer for projects to stall.

The fuel tax and the future of the nation's surface transportation programs should not become hostage to the political games that characterized the debt-ceiling debate and the FAA reauthorization.

Missouri and Kansas officials say their states have enough money on hand to continue existing projects for a few months. Similarly, Ron Achelpohl of the Mid-America Regional Council says that, by and large, ongoing projects in the Kansas City region would continue. But if a lengthy deadlock takes hold, future projects may be delayed or even canceled.

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