Six-year TEA-21 reauthorization plan announced

| 10/29/2003

Four senators working on reauthorization of federal highway and transit financing recently announced a bipartisan agreement for a six-year reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st century, known commonly as TEA-21.

As a result, a markup by the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee is now slated for Nov. 5.

The senators were James Inhofe, R-OK, James Jeffords, I-VT, Kit Bond, R-MO, and Harry Reid, D-NV. They made the news public in a joint statement.

"Completing a six-year reauthorization of TEA-21 is essential for job creation, economic growth and expansion, and the nation's infrastructure. We all agree that this legislation is a top priority for this committee, and so we have worked together for several months to find common ground.

"We expect to move this bill through the EPW Committee with a bipartisan vote, and then proceed to consider it on the Senate floor as soon as Congress returns to work early next year. It is our hope that we can reach agreement with the House before the current extension expires on Feb. 29, 2004, and send a bill to the president's desk as quickly as possible," the senators stated.

Meanwhile, John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, said the six-year reauthorizations would help states avoid postponement of some $2.1 billion in proposed transportation projects, saving 90,000 jobs in the process.

"A six-year bill will also give states the longer lead time needed to plan for major capital-investment projects," Horsley said.

Congressional leaders have spoken of adjourning the first session of the 108th Congress on Nov. 7. To keep highway, highway-safety and transit programs in operation while work on a long-term bill is completed, Congress has enacted a five-month extension of TEA-21, which will expire Feb. 29.