The U.S. Senate last week cleared the Fiscal Year 2006 Treasury- Transportation- HUD appropriations bill. It will significantly change the match requirements for local and state providers of public transportation and allocates nearly $12 million for airport, public transit and community development projects in Idaho.
“Yesterday, the Senate adopted a measure to the bill to ease matching requirements for high-priority federal transportation projects in Idaho,” Sen. Larry Craig explained.
He and Sen. Mike Crapo cosponsored the bill that adds Idaho to a list of states eligible under the “sliding scale” match ratio.
The scale, enacted with passage of the transportation reauthorization bill earlier this year, provides lower matching requirements for high-priority projects in qualified rural areas. Targeted toward states with large tracts of federal land, the scale currently only applies to Alaska, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon and South Dakota.
“Idaho is now able to focus its limited dollars on a more diverse range of critical highway projects without increasing the burden on taxpayers,” Craig said.
The Boise Airport will receive $7.7 million to relocate and build a new air traffic control tower. Public transportation projects in the Treasure Valley, Moscow, Pocatello, the Sun Valley area and the University of Idaho will share about $4 million.
The new air traffic control tower is essential to maintaining flying safety, relieve the workload on air traffic controllers and to expand the capacity of the airport by enabling the use of one of the runways for civil aviation.
The existing tower was built nearly 40 years ago (1967) and is considered only “marginally capable of meeting the needs of the airport.”
Safety concerns with the existing tower include its failure to meet current building codes and the inability to provide visibility of aircraft and vehicle traffic on at least one of the taxiways.
“The most compelling security concern is the existing security buffer around the tower, which does not meet current recommendations,” Craig said.
The proposed funding package also will help Idaho public transportation providers address the rapidly rising demand and ridership.
Seven projects that include such capital items as buses, communications equipment and transit facilities will share $4 million. The capital items will enhance and expand public transit services in Idaho, Craig said.
Recipients targeted for the transportation/community development funds are:
The House version of this bill for the departments of Transportation, Treasury and HUD was passed on June. 30. As passed, the legislation paves the way for transit programs and activities to begin receiving the funds authorized under the recent SAFETEA-LU legislation.