Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young, R-AK, is arguing for
more transportation dollars in view of DOT estimates that say 32
percent of the nation’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
also said 28 percent of bridges were either structurally deficient
probably remember what happened when the bridge on Interstate 40
in Oklahoma went down,” Young said, while speaking at a U.S. Chamber
of Commerce conference in Washington, DC, last week. “ Look at the
Wilson Bridge over the Potomac – it was never designed to handle
the truck capacity it now carries.”
May 2002, 14 people were killed when barges pushed by a towboat
crashed into the I-40 bridge in Oklahoma, causing part of it to
fall into the Arkansas River. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge is a six-lane
drawbridge opened to traffic in 1961 that links interstates I-495
and others want between $270 billion and $375 billion in highway
spending over six years beginning next fiscal year. The money would
come in part from an increase in the federal fuel tax, which Young
calls a “user fee.”
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta says the administration’s
$247 billion, six-year highway proposal is sufficient to maintain
the nation's roads, bridges and tunnels, and meet mass transit needs.
He says the Bush administration is opposed to higher gasoline taxes
to pay for highway programs and said the White House might veto
legislation to enforce its position.
some recent discussions on Capitol Hill have focused on the user
fee increase and not on what is needed to make our roads safer and
reduce congestion,” Young said. “I would argue that the people who
drive on our nation’s highways and ride transit would rather pay
a little more at the pump for safer roads and less congestion.”
a key factor
said road capacity had not kept pace with road use. Since 1970:
The U.S. population has increased by 38 percent; licensed drivers
have increased by 71 percent; registered vehicles have increased
by 99 percent; and the number of miles Americans drive each year
has increased by 148 percent, he said.
during this time period, new road miles have increased by only 6
percent,” Young said. “A just-in-time economy depends on the efficiency
of the entire transportation network – roads, rail, aviation and
said more than one-third of the yearly average of 42,000 motorist
deaths – about 15,000 per year – were caused by substandard road
conditions and outmoded safety designs.
vital that we immediately address this national safety crisis, and
that’s what I am committed to doing,” Young said.
dollars equal jobs
arguing for his $375 billion proposal, Young noted that for every
$1 billion invested in federal highway and transit spending that
is matched by the state, 47,500 jobs are created or sustained.
our proposal will create more than 1.3 million new jobs over the
next six years,” Young said. “The U.S. Department of Transportation
has indicated that an investment of $375 is needed for highways
and transit over the next six years. This is exactly what we
intend to do.”