Idaho stands to gain nearly half a billion dollars
under federal transportation funding levels agreed to by Idaho
Sen. Mike Crapo and his colleagues on the Senate Environment
and Public Works Committee this week. The spending proposals
are part of the six-year highway reauthorization transportation
bill, S. 1072.
bill, known as SAFETEA or the Safe, Accountable, Flexible,
and Efficient Transportation Equity Act is likely to
be approved later this year by the full Senate.
our infrastructure is step one toward improving our economy,
and this proposal will get nearly a half-billion dollars above
current spending into new transportation projects for Idaho,"
said Crapo. He cautioned the numbers could change as the measure
moves through the legislative process.
for Idaho under the already enacted Transportation Equity
Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) was set at approximately
$1.3 billion; under the figures agreed to today, that amount
would rise to $1.7 billion over the six-year duration of the
election year, spending levels are difficult to predict, but
we have established a marker that improves highway and other
transportation spending for Idaho. We can expect a 35% increase
in funding over the six-year cycle, and that increase is far
larger than many states, some of which received 10 percent
increases," Crapo added. "As the federal government
owns nearly two-thirds of our state, it is important that
we receive additional highway funds in compensation."
Crapo has also
fought to make spending transportation funding more flexible
at the state level, and successfully added amendments calling
for increased safety for school children, improvements at
railway-highway crossings, and enhanced fish passage and public
access on federal lands. The federal bill is estimated to
create more than two million new jobs over the next six years,
if approved by the full Senate.
"A good transportation
system promotes economic growth in Idaho and across the nation
while improving our quality of life," Crapo added. "It
gets product from the farm and factory to the distribution
centers, and on to the stores and consumers. It enables us
to move safely and efficiently to school, work, around town
and across the state and country.
"On a more
general level, any good transportation legislation must distribute
highway funds in a way that recognizes the national interest
in transportation investment in and across rural states, not
just in populated areas. Without good interstate and arterial
routes in states like Idaho, business and pleasure travel
as well as interstate commerce are detrimentally affected.
is no question that the federal highway program needs to make
a substantial net investment in the highways of Idaho,"
action is the final activity that the Senate Environment and
Public Works Committee needed to complete on the measure before
it could be reported to the Senate floor. Both the Senate
Finance and the Senate Banking Committees still need to complete
action on the bill, which could be on the Senate floor by