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U.S. Senator Santorum Comments on Passage of the Surface Transportation Bill

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Location: Washington, DC


U.S. Senator Santorum Comments on Passage of the Surface Transportation Bill

U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, commented today on Senate passage of the surface transportation bill. The 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA) passed the Senate today by a vote of 89-11 with the support of Senator Santorum.

Over the past year, Senator Santorum worked tirelessly to provide Pennsylvania with its deserved level of funding. Under last year's version of this legislation, Pennsylvania would have only received $0.97 cents for every dollar it provides to the Highway Trust Fund in the bill's final year. However, due to the efforts of Senators Santorum and Specter, Pennsylvania will never receive less than $1.07 for every dollar it contributes to the Highway Trust Fund over the life of the bill.

"When I opposed the transportation bill last year, I did so because of the concern I had about the way my state was being treated. I am grateful Senator Specter and I were able to achieve greater fairness for Pennsylvania," said Senator Santorum.

With twenty-two interstates and another currently being constructed Pennsylvania bears a large portion of the transportation burden for the northeast region of the U.S. Statistics from the Bureau of Transportation indicate that nearly forty-seven percent of truck traffic in Pennsylvania is "pass-through" traffic, or traffic neither originating or having a destination in Pennsylvania.

Senator Santorum worked with Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, who spoke on the Senate floor on May 12, 2005 praising the work of Senator Santorum to help Pennsylvania have fair and equal treatment in the bill this year.

"Senator Santorum has done a great job leaning on us and talking to us and is largely responsible for the fact that we made a major change in this bill. This change increased the amount that will be going to Pennsylvania each year by $208 million," said Senator Inhofe. "I appreciate the cooperation the Senator has given and the influence he has put on this legislation, which has helped us make this a better bill. I appreciate that very much."

Senator Santorum offered two amendments, which were cosponsored by Senator Specter, included as part of the bill that passed the Senate today. The first amendment details that funds allocated for projects that are inactive or in excess of project needs can be made available for any eligible project upon request by the state originally receiving the allocation. This amendment will free up millions of dollars for new projects throughout Pennsylvania. The second amendment authorizes the use of funds now authorized for noise barriers to construct improvements to streets and roads in Aspinwall, Allegheny County, that provide access to State Route 28.

"Another important component of this bill is funding for mass transit. Pennsylvania not only relies heavily on highways, but on public transit as well. As a member of the committee of jurisdiction over transit programs, I am pleased that we were able to secure a significant increase for the transit title of the bill," said Senator Santorum. "Public transportation provides communities with an affordable means of mobility, offers individuals greater opportunity, saves energy, and reduces congestion and pollution."

The SAFETEA also increases funding for the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program, which has been essential to families transitioning from welfare to work. Senator Santorum is one of the creators of this program, which Pennsylvania has used to provide welfare recipients and other low-income individuals an important tool in their effort to secure and retain employment and achieve self-sufficiency.

"Throughout my tenure in Congress, one of my highest priorities has been assisting those who are transitioning from welfare to the workplace. The JARC program has been essential to assisting families through this transition," said Senator Santorum.

It is important to note that the Senate bill differs from the bill in the House of Representatives in that there are no earmarks for specific highway or transit projects. Projects will be added in the final stages of the conference report between the House and Senate.

http://santorum.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.View&ContentRecord_id=1232&Region_id=0&Issue_id=0&CFID=6802519&CFTOKEN=63480384

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