WASHINGTON -- Congress gave final approval to the $151 billion highway and mass transit bill Wednesday, ushering in a new era of significantly higher federal spending on transportation projects.

The bill, which President Bush has signaled he will sign, increases federal spending on highway projects by 40%, to $114.8 billion between fiscal years 1992 and 1997, from the $68.9 billion spent on highways in the last five years, according to the Transportation Department.

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