Highway reauthorization numbers mean Idaho
in projects for every $1 paid into Highway Trust fund
From Sen. Mike Crapo
WASHINGTON, D.C. 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.
The spending proposals are part of the six-year
highway reauthorization transportation bill, S. 1072. The
reauthorization bill, known as SAFETEA or the Safe,
Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity
Act likely will be approved later this year by the
"Improving 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, who cautioned the numbers
could change as the measure moves through the legislative
Total funding 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 bill.
"In this 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 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 bill is estimated to create more than two
million new jobs nationwide 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.
Accordingly, there is no question that the federal
highway program needs to make a substantial net investment
in the highways of Idaho," Crapo said.
The action represents 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 early February.