March 17, 2005

IDAHO ROADS, TRANSIT BENEFIT IN COMMITTEE VOTES

Crapo language basis for parts of highway bill; transit funding doubles

Washington, DC â?? Idaho stands to see large increases for highway and mass transit funding under two separate votes by the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and fellow members of the Senate Banking Committee today approved legislation which could more than double funding levels for Idaho mass transit projects from Fiscal Year 2003 levels. The measure, if unchanged by the full Senate and House, would net Idaho nearly $71.6 million for mass transit projects over the six-year life of the bill. The previous bill totaled $33.5 million. The total for all states is $51 billion. Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee used language authored by Crapo and Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) last session to help set authorization levels for highway projects. The transportation reauthorization bill, known as SAFETEA, or the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act, has been kept alive through stop-gap votes dating back to last session when Crapo was a member of the Committee. This week, language similar to that inserted by Crapo last year was used as the Committee passed the six-year reauthorization good through Fiscal Year 2009. â??The last numbers we had coming to Idaho for road and bridge work was about $1.3 billion and, if this bill follows through to passage by the full Senate and House, Idaho may get close to $1.57 billion,â?? Crapo said. â??I applaud Chairman Inhofeâ??s efforts to build on the plan we started last year which ensure rural states will maintain their federal funding levels. We must now build on those efforts to get this bill approved by the full Senate.â?? The bill provides $191 billion for maintenance and improvement of the nationâ??s roads and bridges over the 2005-2009 period. The transit vote by the Banking Committee would be inserted into the overall SAFETEA bill during debate by the full Senate later this year. # # #