Today, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison praised the announcement that Senate negotiators had reached agreement with the House of Representatives on a highway bill.
"I'm very pleased we've been able to reach agreement on a long term highway program that will help us improve our transportation system, boost the economy and create jobs in Texas and across the country. It is vitally important that Congress was able to come together on this issue and avoid another short term extension. This development means our nation can plan adequately for future needs."
Hutchison said the highway bill, which is scheduled to be approved by the end of the week, includes a number of specific provisions that will benefit Texas directly.
The bill includes several funding programs important to Texas, including:
* This bill is a significant win for Texas, raising the rate-of-return for Highway Trust Fund dollars to 95 percent from the current 92 percent, which represents an increase of almost $2 billion annually since Senator Hutchison was first elected to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate. In 1993, Texas' return was 76 percent - a problem that she has worked hard, year-by-year, to resolve.
* The bill contains $1.75 billion over two years for the TIFIA program.
* The final agreement maintains Senator Hutchison's long-held commitment to limit the expansion of tolling on our nation's existing Interstate System, while encouraging approaches which add capacity and actually reduce congestion along our transportation network.
* The bill includes Senator Hutchison's initiative to improve motorcoach safety nationwide.
* More than 108 existing surface transportation programs are consolidated to less than 30 and the bill shifts significant decision-making authority from the federal level back to state and local governments.
* The bill provides critical funding to Texas' growing mass transit systems for the advancement of bus and rail projects.
* At Senator Hutchison's urging, the bill encourages development along the state's major unfinished corridors, such as Interstate 69, by allowing for segments to be designated as Interstate when they meet federal, access-controlled standards.
* The bill also invests in research and development of our transportation network, including providing competitive grants for national and regional university transportation center research.