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Crapo, Craig want rural transportation needs
considered in new bill

Conference committee to consider low-density formula that gives rural states a boost

WASHINGTON, DC – Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig want the special highway needs of Idaho and other rural states to be properly recognized in the Transportation Reauthorization measure now headed to a Senate-House Conference Committee.

In a letter sent to the committee leadership today, the Idaho duo asked for support of the Senate-passed low-density formula that helps ensure that rural states will receive an appropriate share of highway funds.

The low-density formula will ensure that Idaho and other states with smaller populations and large land areas receive a proper share of highway funding, a certainty that has not been previously available. A copy of the full letter is available upon request.

Crapo said, “Our transportation system is vital to Idaho’s economy, facilitating interstate commerce, moving products to market, and providing citizens with ways to get around. When rural states like Idaho are disadvantaged due to federal government land ownership and other factors, the federal government needs to recognize that and make accommodations for it. The low-density feature of the equity funding bonus provides that assistance and will help Idaho maintain its transportation infrastructure.”

Craig said, “Idahoans have always received more money for transportation than we pay in gas tax and, quite frankly, that is how it should be in a fiscally responsible world. With our vast stretches of open highway, we simply don't have the population to support the infrastructure we need-an infrastructure that is the backbone of a strong economy in Idaho.”

Crapo serves as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which maintains jurisdiction over the public transportation issues involved in the legislation. As a member of that committee, Crapo worked during the Senate reauthorization of TEA-21 (Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century) to create a rural low-density formula. Without this provision, Idaho’s share of highway funds would decline.

The low-density formula is part of the TEA-21 reauthorization. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to complete action on its reauthorization bill this week, which will then become part of the Senate-House negotiations to finalize TEA-21. The Senate passed its version of TEA-21 reauthorization in February 2004 on a vote of 76-21.

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