Widening Woods Chapel Road in Blue Springs. Improving 35th Street in Independence. Streetscape work in Englewood.

Widening Woods Chapel Road in Blue Springs. Improving 35th Street in Independence. Streetscape work in Englewood.

Let’s say Congress doesn’t change its ways anytime soon. Let’s say the partisan bickering gets in the way of regular business, the way renewing the budget for air travel safety became a minor controversy and the way raising the debt ceiling became a huge and pointless controversy.

What’s next? The federal government’s Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – the main means of sending out federal money for roads and bridges – expired two years ago, and Congress has passed extensions since then to keep the program going and the money flowing.

The job access program in Independence. Work on Interstate 435 from 23rd Street to U.S. 24.

That’s the same as Congress did with Federal Aviation Administration funding, a problem it fixed a few weeks ago only when it became too politically embarrassing to let the agency largely shut down. Guess what expires Sept. 30? The highway money program.

Improvements to the intersection at U.S. 40 and Lee’s Summit Road? A new bridge on Stadium Road near Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadiums? The Dial-a-Ride program in Independence.

Motorists pay 18.4 cents a gallon in federal gasoline taxes (in lieu of sales taxes). That is money that Washington sends back to states and localities. The projects listed here are local examples of projects set for the coming year – $103 million worth metrowide – projects that could be endangered if Congress goes the same way on road funding as it did on the debt ceiling and the FAA.

Congress has shown that no reasonable piece of legitimate, common-sense government business is sheltered from destructive political grandstanding. That’s why Standard & Poor’s said its recent downgrade of the nation’s credit, after the debt-ceiling debacle, was more about the instability of the political system than the country’s actual ability to pay its bills.