Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Transportation Appropriations Bill Passes Senate with Cuts in ISTEA

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Transportation Appropriations Bill Passes Senate with Cuts in ISTEA

Article excerpt

In floor action last week, the Senate approved a $13.5 billion appropriations bill for the Department of Transportation (DOT) and related agencies. The Senate passed its version of H.R. 5518 on Wednesday, by a 74 to 22 vote.

Citing the far-reaching changes in the Federal Surface Transportation Program through the approval of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) last year, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, told his colleagues that this appropriation bill "keeps the faith with those changes by providing funds for flexible, multimodal, productive investment in critical national transportation infrastructure."

Unfortunately, keeping the "faith" of ISTEA did not include keeping the funding levels. The ISTEA had authorized $20.488 billion for fiscal year 1993. In both the House and Senate appropriations bills, transit programs were increased above fiscal year 1992 levels, but far below ISTEA's authorization of $5.2 billion.

The appropriations bill does, however, provide more money for railroads and new rail technology. The legislation gives more funding to Amtrak, and its highspeed corridor between Boston and New York, and would provide funds for a magnetic levitation vehicle demonstration project that was not included in the House legislation or in the Administration's budget.

The transportation appropriations bill would also authorize states to spend $18 billion for roads projects from the Highway Trust Fund and $1. …

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