WASHINGTON — Congress only has a very small window of time early next year to approve a multi-year transportation bill or it will risk losing the opportunity to do so for another two years, congressional aides said at a meeting here yesterday.

Any delay in congressional action could sideline legislation until after the 2012 presidential election cycle, House and Senate staffers said at a public-private partnership conference hosted by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. It also could jeopardize the current federal system for transportation funding, the centerpiece of which is the Highway Trust Fund that relies upon gas tax revenue rather than the appropriations process.

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