|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
April 2, 1998
Washington, D.C. – By a vote of 337 to 80 the House last night approved a six-year, $218 billion highway and transit bill that includes $60 million for 11 projects in the Mahoning Valley. The projects were inserted into the bill by U. S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D–OH), a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "For years our Valley has been ignored by state transportation officials," said Traficant. "I'm proud and excited that my constituents will be getting a fair return on the federal gas taxes they pay. These projects are not pork – they're desperately needed and deserve funding."
Last night the House overwhelmingly approved H.R. 2400, the "Building Efficient Surface Transportation Equity Act of 1998" (BESTEA). The bill authorizes a total of $218 billion in federal funding over the next six years for highway and transit programs. Traficant was able to secure funding in BESTEA for the following 11 projects:
Construction of S.R. 711 Connector ($25 million)
Construction of Kings Graves Rd. Interchange ($4.8 million)
Opening up of Federal Plaza in Youngstown ($2.08 million)
Construction of Intermodal Industrial Park in Wellsville ($2.04 million)
Jacobs Road Bridge Replacement in Youngstown ($2 million)
McCuffey Road Bridge Rehabilitation in Youngstown ($3.36 million)
Widening of Western Reserve Road ($5.6 million)
Construction of North Road Connector to S.R. 46 ($5.68 million)
Widening of North Road ($1.2 million)
Widening of U.S. Route 422 through Girard ($4.72 million)
Widening of S.R. 46 from Mahoning Ave. to Salt Springs Rd. ($3.52 million)
BESTEA guarantees each state at least a 90 percent return on the federal gas taxes it sends to Washington. Under the bill, Ohio will receive $6.35 billion over the next six years – a 98.6 percent return on the federal gas taxes Ohio is expected to pay during that time. In 1986, Traficant authored an amendment guaranteeing states at least an 85 percent minimum allocation from the federal Highway Trust Fund. "The minimum allocation provisions in BESTEA represent a dramatic step forward in fairness and equity," said Traficant. "BESTEA will provide Ohio with a whopping 59 percent increase in federal highway and transit funding. This is a great bill for Ohio and the Mahoning Valley."
The $60 million in federal funds secured by Traficant will leverage an additional $21 million in state and local spending. With the exception of the Wellsville project, which has a total cost of $8.9 million, Traficant was able to secure the full federal match for every project. By law, the federal government can only fund 80 percent of the total cost of a highway project. State and local governments must provide the remaining 20 percent.
As soon as the bill is signed into law, the $60 million for the Mahoning Valley projects will be transferred from the U.S. Department of Transportation to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), which can only spend the funds on the 11 earmarked projects. Funds will be provided for the projects over the next six years.
In addition to the Mahoning Valley projects, BESTEA includes two amendments authored by Traficant. The first amendment applies federal motor carrier safety regulations to all interstate school bus operations. The second directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a study on ways to improve school bus safety.
A conference committee will be convened to iron out differences between the House-passed bill and the bill passed by the Senate last month. A final version is expected to be approved by both houses and sent to the President by May. Federal highway and transit funding expires May 1st.
Traficant is confident that federal funding for the 11 Mahoning Valley projects will remain in the final version of the bill. Once the bill is signed into law, Traficant intends to work with ODOT and local officials to expedite work on the projects.2009