Transportation officials hit the road on behalf of TEA-21

| Monday, September 15, 2003

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and other officials will speak in several cities throughout the country the next few days to urge passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, known as TEA-21.

“Most states can confirm what this administration has said from the beginning – that avoiding the responsibility of passing a full six-year reauthorization bill would bring us one step closer to crisis,” Mineta said. “Americans cannot afford the added construction costs and potential job losses associated with congressional inaction, so I urge the Congress to fulfill its obligation to help state and local transportation leaders meet the needs of their communities.”

Earlier this week, Mineta wrote lawmakers saying failure to pass reauthorization legislation by Sept. 30 would result in a shutdown of key federal highway safety administration programs and the furlough of federal workers.  

On his road trip, Mineta will ask officials and citizens to call on Congress to fulfill its obligation to local and state legislators by avoiding short-term extensions of TEA-21, as well as congressional overspending that could “bankrupt the highway trust fund in as little as three years,” DOT said in a release.

Mineta plans to speak in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The initiative also includes public events around the country by Federal Highway Safety Administrator Mary Peters, Federal Transit Administrator Jenna Dorn and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Dr. Jeffrey Runge. 

The group plans to tell audiences delay in passage of a full six-year plan could hurt the economy and jeopardize the ability of state and local transportation leaders to plan and manage important transportation infrastructure projects. 

AASHTO survey

DOT cited an August survey by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials where 45 state transportation agencies and the District of Columbia documented that any delay in TEA-21 passage could compound state budget problems and result in delayed construction projects, added construction costs and lost jobs. 

In addition, 33 of the 45 transportation agencies said that a short-term extension, rather than enactment of a full six-year bill, could mean $2.1 billion in project delays and the loss of more than 90 million jobs.

On Sept. 13, Mineta will underscore the importance of TEA-21 when he’ll announce a grant for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority in Los Angeles and, on Sept. 14, for the Municipal Transportation Agency in San Francisco. On Sept. 15, Peters will present remarks to the annual Southeastern Association of Highway and Transportation Officials meeting in Charleston, WV.

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