Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mica Puts Transit Spending in Reverse; Congressman's Proposed Cuts Could Put Local Road Projects on Chopping Block

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mica Puts Transit Spending in Reverse; Congressman's Proposed Cuts Could Put Local Road Projects on Chopping Block

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Hannan

The Northeast Florida congressman who chairs a key House committee is pushing for large cuts in transit spending over the next six years that he says will save money and opponents say will cost jobs.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., proposed a transportation bill Thursday that spends $230 billion in the next six years. That is a drop of about 20 percent from the last transportation bill, signed by President George W. Bush in 2005, and less than half of the $566 billion requested by President Barack Obama to shore up the nation's crumbling infrastructure.

"We're willing to work with Democrats to get something done," Mica said. "But the proposals coming from the White House are not economically realistic."

Mica acknowledged that his bill would cause cuts to states for road and bridge programs. But he also said the legislation would "create long-term jobs," encourage public-private partnerships that would allow private entities to do some projects, and cut red tape so projects are done cheaper and more efficiently.

"This proposal maximizes the value of our available infrastructure funding through better leveraging, streamlining the project approval process, attracting private-sector investment, and cutting the federal bureaucracy," he said.

It drew immediate opposition from Democrats and an estimate from Florida Transportation Builders Association President Bob Burleson that Florida would lose 7 percent to 8 percent of the money it now receives.

Local projects awaiting federal money and in danger of being delayed or scrapped could include a regional transit center at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, replacing an elevated portion of Interstate 95 south of the Fuller Warren Bridge, rebuilding and relocating the interchange from Interstate 10 at Marietta, adding lanes on Florida 9A from I-95 to the Dames Point bridge and extending Florida 9B from U. …

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