U.S. Representative Kathy Castor and local transportation leaders urged adoption today of the Senate-passed transportation reauthorization bill when the U.S. House convenes next week. Nationwide transportation funding and initiatives expire on March 31 without House action. They gathered near the unfinished segment of the I-275 expansion. Excerpts of their comments are below:
"Jobs, business and road safety are directly tied to passage of the federal transportation bill. I urge my colleagues to act expeditiously as communities across the country are relying on us, and Florida's annual share is approximately $2 billion. Here in the Tampa Bay area, we can boost roadway projects, transit, sidewalks and bike lanes."
- U.S. Rep Kathy Castor
"Whether you are in Washington or Tallahassee, you need to know that those of us in our local communities are counting on you to do something. We need to reauthorize transportation funding. Ridership is up on public transportation, we are doing well at the fare box, but we also rely on federal dollars to buy busses and other capital equipment. This local/federal partnership needs to continue.
- Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman
"I came in from the east side of town, traffic was backed up on the interstate to 22nd street. It is clear that we need transportation reauthorization now. We need a long term approach, because the jobs are not just in the people you see in front building the road -- there are even more jobs behind them. When you set out to do a huge project, like expand I-275, you invest in thinks like fill dirt, asphalt materials, and quarries, providing a boost and creating jobs across our economy."
- J.C. Miseroy
Chairman Florida Transportation Builders Association
"We have to keep investing in both highways and transit. When you go to attract businesses in Florida, we are always able to complete on quality of life issues -- the best weather, the best beaches, but our infrastructure needs to meet that level. It is hard to attract new businesses if they get stuck in a traffic jam just trying to get from one site to the next."
- Mark House
Managing Director for the Florida Division of The Beck Group
"Public transportation is a major driver of our economy. I know of a laundry mat at a bus stop, that when the bus stop was closed down for a time, that small business owner suffered major losses. Investments in transit and infrastructure are an investment in the economic growth of our community.
The best thing for Florida is for Congress to take up and pass the Senate bill. We cannot have these funds dry up on March 31st, and we cannot leave Floridians out to dry with the House bill that does not provide the investments we need."
- Alison Hewitt
President Central Florida chapter of the
Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO)
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed S.1813, a bill to reauthorize surface transportation programs for two additional years by a vote of 74-22. The current authorization is set to expire on March 31, 2012 if the House does not act. Under the bill passed by the Senate yesterday, Florida would receive an increase of $23 million dollars in transportation funding. Current proposals in the House would cut $800 million for Florida over the duration of the authorization.