Three days before the latest extension expired, the Senate passed its own version of a $15 billion jobs bill to restore highway spending authority for SAFETEA-LU through the end of the year.

The bill provides additional revenue to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through the first quarter of 2011 and allows public bodies to convert tax credit bonds to Build America Bonds.

The bipartisan bill is an amended version of the Jobs for Main Street Act, which the House passed in December. That bill sets aside $27.5 billion for highway infrastructure investments and $1 billion each for the Clean Water and Drinking Water state revolving funds. As of press time, the Senate version moved back to the House.

The 12-member National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission found that the nation needs to invest at least $225 billion annually for the next 50 years to upgrade its existing transportation system and build a more advanced one. Currently the nation is only spending 40% of that on transportation infrastructure.