Idaho receives federal incentive grant
Idaho will receive approximately $300,000 for safety improvement projects, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced last week.
The federal discretionary funds were part of the U.S. DOTs six-year authorization, known as Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. The transportation bill expired in 2003. It is not known whether its eventual successor will continue the incentive grant program. This could be the final year of funding, explains Mark Strait, of the Idaho Office of Highway Safety (OHS).
Projects that will benefit from the federal grant probably will be determined by early August, Strait said. Funds must be used in projects related to highway or construction safety.
The funds are part of a national incentive program that acknowledges legislation in 47 states that lowers the threshold for impaired driving to .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Only Colorado, Delaware and Minnesota will not receive a share of the $47.8 million awarded last week by the U.S. Transportation Department.
Those three states had nearly $5.7 million in grant funds withheld because they had not met the deadline for adopting .08 as the standard for impaired driving. Colorado enacted a law that became effective Thursday (July 1), and Minnesota will enforce a similar law effective Aug. 1. Colorado had nearly $5 million withheld and Minnesota nearly $5.7 million.
Once the states law becomes effective, all withheld funds will be restored as quickly as possible, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.
At stake for Delaware is nearly $1.6 million.
New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia receive the incentive grants for the first time this year.
Funds may be used for highway safety or highway infrastructure projects.
The people of 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have shown that they will not tolerate alcohol-impaired drivers on their roads, Mineta said. We urge Delaware to complete our work by enacting tougher laws to reduce alcohol-related crashes, injuries and fatalities.
The .08 BAC became the national standard for defining impaired driving in October 2000. The penalty for not complying with the federal law increases in 2 percent increments each year to a maximum of 8 percent in fiscal year 2007, and continues at that rate annually thereafter.
The Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2004 authorized the incentive grants that Mineta announced June 25.l The grants encourage states to enact and enforce laws that make it illegal for drivers with a BAC of .08 or greater to operate a motor vehicle.
California received the largest grant this year nearly $4.9 million, followed by Texas ($3.6 million), New York ($2.8 million) and Florida ($2.5 million).
Eight states received the lowest grants of $247,257.