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Federal Furloughs Could Bring Layoffs At DDOT

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Some highway construction projects in D.C. have been halted because Congress failed to pass key transportation legislation.
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Some highway construction projects in D.C. have been halted because Congress failed to pass key transportation legislation.

By David Schultz

Construction crews on dozens of highway projects across the country are idle today because Congress failed to approve a crucial piece of legislation.

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) is blocking an extension of the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for - among other things - federal safety inspectors. Without those inspectors, work had to stop yesterday on dozens of projects, including the 9th Street Bridge over New York Avenue in Northeast D.C.

Gabe Klein, head of D.C.'s Department of Transportation, says construction crews at 9th Street will be reimbursed when the shut-down ends. He says that means they'll be paid $10,000 a day to do nothing.

"If this doesn't get fixed this week," he says, "$50,000... gone."

Bunning says he doesn't want Congress to increase the federal debt by passing the bill without first identifying its funding source. But the bill could be passed as early as tomorrow afternoon, over Bunning's objections.

Klein says if it doesn't get passed soon, he could be forced to make widespread layoffs at DDOT.

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