The HIRE (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment) Act passed on Wednesday by the U.S. Senate and signed today by President Obama extends funding for the Highway Trust Fund and the surface transportation authorization bill (SAFETEA-LU).

The Senate passed the measure 68-29.

“Hundreds of thousands of construction workers and state department of transportation employees from across the country are breathing a collective sigh of relief today now that the Senate has approved the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act,” said John Horsley, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) executive director. “We are delighted that Congress has passed this significant piece of legislation. It’s a win for the economy and for the communities that will benefit from the transportation projects funded by this measure.”

According to AASHTO, the bill would extend the current authorization through Dec. 31 of this year, pump $19.5 billion into the Highway Trust Fund to ensure its solvency, restore $8.7 billion in funding for states and restore the funding to the federal highway program’s 2009 level of $42 billion.

“The highway provisions in the HIRE Act provide a roadmap for bipartisanship to the U.S. Congress,” said Greg Cohen, president of the American Highway Users Alliance. “The vast majority of the public understands that a commitment to congestion relief and safety investments on our roads and bridges will help every part of America become stronger. These investments will work to get us moving again, creating and improving access to jobs.”

The bill will also allow the Highway Trust Fund to collect interest in deposits and pay fuel-tax exemptions for government vehicles out of the General Fund rather than the Trust Fund.