Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stimulus Bill Conferees Urged to Adopt Best Transportation Provisions in Senate and House Bills

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The stimulus bill conferees should adopt the best transportation provisions in the Senate and House bills, according to an adviser to the U.S. Transportation Department who is Transportation Director for Environmental Defense Fund.

The Senate bill provides $2 billion for high-speed rail and $1.1 billion for intercity rail, including Amtrak. It also includes a $5.5 billion competitive grant program for road, transit, rail and port projects. The Senate bill also ensures that local governments would get at least 40 percent of "formula" highway funding under the Surface Transportation Program, which would ensure that transportation dollars address the most pressing local needs.

"This stimulus spending could yield benefits that will last for generations," said Michael Replogle, a civil engineer, a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Intelligent Transportation Systems for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Transportation Director for Environmental Defense Fund. "The key to realizing this economic potential is for states and local governments to focus on maintaining existing road and bridges and investing in projects that will increase America's energy independence. Public officials must make their spending plans totally transparent as soon as possible, so taxpayers can check to ensure that these billions of dollars are being spent wisely."

The House bill provides $12 billion in transit funding, including $2.5 billion in funding for new projects and $2 billion to modernize existing subways, light rail, and similar facilities.

"Expanding transit options and investing in smart traffic management reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming and create more jobs than building new roads," concluded Replogle.

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