Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today called for robust funding for ferries in the transportation reauthorization bill. In a letter to Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of which Larsen is a member, Larsen asked that $200 million be allocated to ferry programs, an increase from the $67 million authorized in the bill passed by the committee last month. That bill is currently undergoing major revision.
Last year Larsen introduced the United States Ferry Systems Investment Act, a bipartisan bill which would strengthen federal investment in ferry systems nationwide.
Larsen's letter to Mica follows:
March 9, 2012
The Honorable John Mica
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
2165 Rayburn House Office Building
Dear Mr. Chairman:
As the House continues to work on multi-year reauthorization funding of surface transportation programs, I urge you to continue to support robust funding for the Federal Highway Administration Ferry Boat Program. As you know, ferries carry more than 100 million passengers annually and operate in at least 38 states nationwide. Ferries help relieve congestion in major metropolitan areas, serve isolated communities, provide a critical emergency evacuation alternative and serve as an interim solution when other transportation infrastructure systems fail. In my state, many of the ferry routes are critical links in the National Highway System.
I appreciate your support for language in the recently marked up Surface Transportation Reauthorization that retains the Ferry Boat Program, and also transforms the program from a discretionary one into a formula program. This distinction is critically important, and I urge you to support it in any future transportation bills.
Another critical piece of ferry infrastructure is the authorized amount in the transportation bill. While the ferry program is authorized to spend $67 million in the committee passed bill, the needs for the program are much larger. As you know, I've introduced bipartisan legislation that would increase that authorization amount to $200 million, an amount that would help address the infrastructure and operational needs of ferries. I ask that you support this necessary and important increase in funding.
Thank you for your past support of the Ferry Boat Program. I appreciate your consideration of my requests and look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure the future of ferry transportation in the U.S.
United States Representative
Washington State, 2nd District