SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOCPLEASE NOTE: The following transcript is a portion of the official hearing record of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Additional material pertinent to this transcript may be found on the web site of the Committee at [http://www.house.gov/transportation]. Complete hearing records are available for review at the Committee offices and also may be purchased at the U.S. Government Printing Office.
FISCAL YEAR 1997 UNAUTHORIZED TRANSIT PROJECTS
THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 1996
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:02 a.m. in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Thomas E. Petri (hairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. PETRI. The subcommittee will come to order.
The first item on the subcommittee's agenda today is to consider fiscal year 1997 funding requests that have been made for unauthorized new start transit projects. We're all familiar with the pledge made and carried out by the chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee not to fund highway projects; however, no such restraint has been shown concerning transit projects.
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Last year, the subcommittee had an opportunity to review unauthorized transit projects which were to be funded in the fiscal year 1996 transportation appropriations bill and included authorization for worthy projects in the national highway system bill which was passed by the House last September.
Testimony we'll hear this morning will be instrumental in our consideration of what, if any, new start transit projects merit our support for Federal funding in the upcoming fiscal year.
These project requests generally fall into two categories: projects which were not authorized in ISTEA 5 years ago but which are now reportedly ready to receive funding, and those projects which did receive a specific authorization in ISTEA but total funds already appropriated for the project are now in excess of the ISTEA authorization.
Following testimony from Members of Congress and local officials, we will then hear from representatives from the Department of Transportation regarding proposals included in Administration's budget for fiscal year 1997 that would require statutory changes in order to be implemented.
It is my understanding that the Department will be submitting authorizing legislation regarding several of these initiatives in the near future. While we have not expressed support or opposition for any of these recommendations, this hearing will provide the needed background information to allow us to evaluate the merit of each proposal.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For example, I'm interested in learning why the Department was compelled to propose a vast expansion of the 10-State, 2-year State infrastructure bank pilot project that was approved just 5 months ago in the national highway system bill.
The President's budget would set aside $250 million for an expanded program, and all of this prior to the final designation of all ten States selected to participate in the pilot project and just 1 year before we will enact a major reauthorization bill.
This hearing will give us an opportunity to learn the urgency of this proposal and the rationale and benefits of other Department proposals.
I'd like to welcome all of our witnesses this morning, including our own many colleagues who have taken time out of their schedules to appear before the subcommittee. I look forward to their testimony.
I believe Nick Rahall has a statement and will be here shortly, and I would like to include a statement of the chairman of the full committee, Bud Shuster, in the record.
[The prepared statements of Mr. Shuster and Mr. Hayes follow:]
Mr. PETRI. I think--Governor, would you prefer to do your testimony or go vote and come back and do it?
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. Mr. Chairman, how long do you think it will be, approximately?
Mr. PETRI. There's a vote.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. That's right. It's a vote. I see.
Mr. PETRI. Yes. Should we go vote and come back, because then Mr. Rahall will be here.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. Sure. Fine.
Mr. PETRI. Good.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. The committee will adjourn for 10 minutes.
Mr. PETRI. The committee will come to order.
At this point I'd like to recognize our senior minority member, Mr. Rahall, for any opening statement he might choose to make.
Mr. RAHALL. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. Chairman, the fundamental reason we're meeting today is to review funding requests for unauthorized transit projects, as well as various and sundry legislative requests being advanced by the Administration as part of the fiscal year 1997 appropriations.
To be clear, just because a given transit project is unauthorized does not mean it is not in the public interest or a high priority. The Tren Urbano project in Puerto Rico, for instance, is highly rated by the FTA and is being universally acclaimed as one of the best and most-needed transit projects in the United States and its territories; yet, it is not authorized, and that is simply due to the fact that in 1991, when the Congress last reauthorized a Federal transit program as part of ISTEA, the Tren Urbano project was still just a glimmer in some urban planner's eyes--not the gentleman sitting before us though, I might add.
I'm sure that there are other transit projects in a similar situation. The purpose here then is to review these projects so we can be in a better position to determine whether they should receive funding in fiscal year 1997. As I previously noted, we are also meeting to consider funding requests by the Administration which would entail legislation. There are several of them, but I would like to comment on one in particular.
For fiscal year 1997, the Administration is not only requesting an increase in transit operating assistance, but, in contravention of the authorization, would provide a portion of this money out of the mass transit account of the highway trust fund.
Now, I'm all for increasing transit operating assistance, and frankly this issue is so important, especially in rural areas, that I have no particular problem with this assistance coming out of the trust fund. I would take it out of the land and water conservation fund or the superfund if we could swing it, but the fact of the matter is that transit operating assistance is currently authorized from the general fund. In my view, this is a matter which should be considered by our committee. It will take legislation to accommodate the Administration's proposal.
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However, I am not enthused about this coming about in an appropriation bill. I would, as such, expect the Administration to consult and work with us on this matter, as with the other legislative proposals that it is advancing for fiscal year 1997. In this regard, Mr. Chairman, I would suggest that we move forward with authorizing legislation at the earliest possible date for those transit projects which require it for fiscal year 1997 and any other items requiring immediate attention.
If the Senate fails to act accordingly, we cannot be held accountable, but at least we would have done our job.
So, Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, I guess my final statement would be: the wolf is at the door and we must keep it at bay.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
We're joined by the chairman of the full committee, The Honorable Bud Shuster.
Would you care to make any opening statement?
Mr. SHUSTER. Just to say I'm very pleased to see the witnesses here today. I have paid close attention to their project down there because I think it has the potential for being a model as to how new transit systems can and should be built and operated.
Whether they're going to prove my words to be true or not remains to be seen, but I have been very impressed with what I have seen so far and am strongly supportive of their efforts. In fact, it's a little disturbing to me that the 50 States may well have to look to Puerto Rico to see how to do it right. But, nevertheless, we'll take it any place we can get it.
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Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
Are there any other opening statements?
Mr. PETRI. If not, we'll proceed to the first panel.
We're honored to have with us our colleague and former governor, Governor Romero-Barcelo, and he's accompanied by Mr. Pesquera, who's the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Public Works of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Gentlemen, proceed as you wish.
TESTIMONY OF HON. CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM PUERTO RICO, ACCOMPANIED BY DR. CARLOS I. PESQUERA, SECRETARY, PUERTO RICO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND PUBLIC WORKS
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and fellow Members. Good morning.
As the at-large Member of Congress from Puerto Rico, it is my pleasure to appear before you today to introduce to you Puerto Rico's Secretary of Public Works and Transportation, Doctor Carlos Pesquera, who, as most of you already know, has been working very hard on this project.
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Dr. Pesquera's office and my office have been closely coordinating efforts to bring about a much-needed light rail transportation project for San Juan's greater metropolitan area, and we're here today to request that the members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure continue their support for the Tren Urbano project by supporting a fiscal year 1997 authorization of $50 million for the project.
The light rail system is one of the main components of a transportation and infrastructure strategy which will allow Puerto Rico to continue and further stimulate a sustainable economic development.
As a former mayor of San Juan and former governor of Puerto Rico, I know from first-hand experience that inadequate transportation infrastructure is critical to the island's economic development.
As some of you may know, Puerto Rico has a very high density population, one of the highest in the world. As a matter of fact, to get a clear idea of how densely populated we are, think in terms of the 1970 census of the world population within the confines of the U.S., the 50 States, and then you would have the same density of population that we now have in Puerto Rico--over 1,000 people per square mile.
It's important to note that Tren Urbano has been recognized by the Federal Transit Administration as the most cost-effective project among the many submitted by all the competing jurisdictions across the United States.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To conclude, I fully support the Tren Urbano project and urge your support, as well.
I leave you now with my friend, Dr. Carlos Pesquera, a committed public servant who has been working very, very hard on this project. He's committed to this project, and he's done a wonderful job presenting this project here, in Congress, in Puerto Rico, and everywhere he has been, and I'm sure that in his hands this part of the project will be a success.
Mr. PESQUERA. Thank you, Mr. Congressman. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee.
I am Carlos Pesquera, Secretary of Transportation and Public Works for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. I am honored to appear before you today and extremely pleased to report that we in Puerto Rico are moving rapidly toward the construction of a world class transit system which we call Tren Urbano.
Tren Urbano is very much about the future of Puerto Rico. I believe that one day the nearly 1.5 million residents of the San Juan metropolitan area will associate Tren Urbano with the beginning of an urban renaissance and will constantly refer to how things were before and after Tren Urbano.
Phase one of Tren Urbano will consist of an 11-mile alignment with 14 stations and truck weigh maintenance yard. Approximately 40 percent of the alignment is at or near grade, with almost all the remainder being elevated, except for a two-kilometer segment which is underground. The trains will have a maximum speed in revenue service of 100 kilometers per hour.
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The phase one alignment will operate 20 hours a day. Phase one is expected to serve about 150,000 passengers per day. This will provide relief to the serious traffic congestion that San Juan experiences during every rush hour.
We have established an aggressive schedule for the design and construction. A draft environmental impact statement was prepared and released for public comment on March 24, 1995. At public hearings on the DEIS held April 27, 1995, more than 200 participants submitted written and verbal presentations on the project. Based on the public input in more than 112 community meetings since the project was started, a locally-preferred alternative was selected by the Department of Transportation and Public Works.
The final environmental impact statement was approved by the Federal Transit Administration for circulation on November 6, 1995, and was submitted to a public comment period that closed on December 28, 1995. On February 6, 1996, the EIS was approved and the record of decision was obtained.
The culminating moment in this process occurred on March 13, 1996, when a full funding agreement was signed by the Federal Transit Administration qualifying Tren Urbano for $307.5 million in section three funds, slightly over 30 percent of the project cost. The remainder of the funding will come from our formula grants and local sources.
In a few days we will award a system and test track turn key contract to one of three major consortia that submitted a proposal for the innovative design/build/operate contract. The systems and test track turn key contract includes the final design and construction of 2.3 kilometers of the alignment, two stations, and the maintenance yard. The contractor will also coordinate the interface of six other design/build contracts for other segments of the alignment and install all the track work and provide the vehicles and the train controls for the entire system.
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More importantly, they also will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of a system for a period of 5 to 10 years. This contract represents a unique and progressive approach to transit system development. Civil design/build contract for other segments of the project will be awarded as the remainder of the right-of-way is acquired and cleared.
Recently, Federal Transit Administrator Gordon Linton called Tren Urbano the most exciting rail transit project in the Nation. It also is one of the most cost-effective. The FTA estimates that Tren Urbano's cost effectiveness index is $0.72, based on 1994 dollars and assuming 118 [sic] riders per day.
The innovations in management, financing, and procurement strategy developed for Tren Urbano are being closely followed and widely praised by the transportation industry. I believe that our vigorous and highly-effective community participation program, the extraordinary measures the we have taken to assure top-quality system design, and our search for ways to couple the project with urban development will one day present an instructive case study for transit planners, not only here in the mainland U.S. but around the world.
Congress has recognized the importance of Tren Urbano to maintain economic growth in Puerto Rico. Over the past 2 years, $12.5 million in Federal funding has been appropriated. We are here today to request the members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure continue the support for the Tren Urbano project by granting a fiscal year 1997 authorization of $15 million. This funding level is moderate compared to our total needs, as reflected by the full funding run agreement. Specifically, these funds will help pay for utility location and completion of the design work.
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I look forward to returning next year to speak to this committee about our progress and achievements as you can see the future of Tren Urbano in the context of ISTEA reauthorize.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of this committee, for your time and consideration. I am prepared to answer any questions that you may have.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you. We look forward to your returning to give us that report, as well.
Are there any questions?
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, no questions. I'd just commend the Secretary and our colleague from Puerto Rico for their tremendous leadership and effort they've put into this project and others in Puerto Rico. We appreciate it, and I know that Carlos, our colleague, has consistently been a supporter of this project and has worked very closely with this committee and provided us all the information we needed in a very timely fashion through the whole process.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. Thank you, and I want to thank the committee also for their support and other Members for support of our project.
Thank you very much.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PESQUERA. Mr. Chairman, we will be working very hard so that one day the picture of Tren Urbano will be hanging on these walls. Thank you.
Mr. RAHALL. That would be a beautiful addition.
Mr. PETRI. We've been briefed on this project before, and it is a very exciting and important one to the San Juan area.
Do you think it will be completed in 5 years? Are you on schedule for that?
Mr. PESQUERA. Yes. We are on schedule. As a matter of fact, yesterday we had a meeting with the three teams that are submitting their bids for the project, and we expect to announce the selection of the team in the first two weeks of May, start construction in July. They all mentioned that they are able to finish the project within schedule and somewhat ahead of schedule, so we are confident that we can be in operation by the year 2001.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you very much.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. At this point I think I'll recognize our colleague, Representative Franks.
Mr. FRANKS. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. First let me congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, on convening this hearing today to get input on the need for substantial support from the Federal Government to assist mass transit projects across the country.
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Let me also bring to the committee's attention, if I may, the fact that I have a project of considerable concern to me and, most notably, to my constituents in Somerset County, New Jersey, the project known as the ''West Trenton Line,'' which this committee reviewed last year and fully supported. I'm hopeful that that can be the outcome once again.
This is an example where the infrastructure for this service already exists. In fact, for nearly 100 years passenger service was operated on this West Trenton Line, and then passenger service in 1982 was abandoned.
Unfortunately, during the period of time from 1982 until today there has been nearly a 50 percent increase in population in the area of the State that was served by this particular passenger line.
Subsequent to passenger service having been terminated in 1982, freight continued to use this line. Conrail uses it today. The tracks are in good shape. The infrastructure exists. There would need to be investments in some of the access roads to improve access to the stations that would serve for passengers purposes.
But, Mr. Chairman, this particular road has the highest percentage of single occupancy vehicles, in terms of passenger automobiles, of any stretch of highway in the entire State of New Jersey. We are already the most densely-populated State in the Nation. We are struggling to bring the State into compliance under the very strict standards established by the Clean Air Act. The reestablishment of passenger service here would be of enormous benefit to get cars off the road, ease congestion, allow us to comply with the Clean Air Act, and restore service where it existed for nearly 100 years.
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To me, this is a project that makes nothing but the best of sense, and I sincerely appreciate the time to briefly explain it to you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Franks follows:]
Mr. PETRI. Thank you for so ably calling it to the committee's attention. We look forward to working with you on helping to move that forward.
Mr. Paul Ehrhardt, chairman of the Greater Hartford Transit District, is our next scheduled witness. Welcome, sir. Our colleagues, Barbara Kennelly and Nancy Johnson, very much wanted to be here with you. They asked that their apologies be extended, but other obligations prevented them from being here at this time, so we look forward to your testimony.
TESTIMONY OF PAUL EHRHARDT, CHAIRMAN, GREATER HARTFORD TRANSIT DISTRICT
Mr. EHRHARDT. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. We are, indeed, pleased to have the support of Congresswomen Barbara Kennelly and Nancy Johnson for this project, and their statements are being submitted for the record, along with two other statements, one from the chairman of Fleet Bank, Eileen Kraus, who is chairing our overall financing implementation task force for what is known as the Griffin Line project in the greater Hartford area, and Mr. Richard Maine, who is the chairman of the financing subcommittee, who is a real estate investment expert and is assisting us in the development of an innovative financing plan.
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We are here today, indeed, seeking a project authorization in the amount of $6.4 million dollars for Federal fiscal year 1997 to allow our project to move forward to the engineering and environmental stage. We have completed the major investment study last summer, and we have what we believe is a unique project, which can serve as a national model in many respects, particularly related to both the financing strategy for the project and in terms of the community and economic development features that have been involved in the planning for this project over the last 8 or 9 years.
Rather than read my statement, I'll submit that for the record, Mr. Chairman, and just would like to highlight two features of our overall project.
One is, as I indicated, the economic development feature. We have some 16 station stops in our phase one program which would involve, in year of expenditures, some $300 million, and we're targeting that for a 60 percent Federal share rather than the legislatively-established 80 percent. We're actually looking to make up that difference with a significant and perhaps precedent-setting private sector involvement, both on the capital and on the operating side--some 10 percent on the capital side and as much as 15 percent on the operating side--and coupling that with local and regional support, in addition to the traditional State level of support.
From the economic development perspective, around each of the station stops that has been developed, we have had both public and private sector and general community support and have developed tailored plans for neighborhood revitalization in the depressed areas in the northern part of Hartford--very much in need of redevelopment--as well as in some purely open suburban land and some downtown redevelopment sites.
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This transit investment would ultimately connect Bradley International Airport with a major university along the line, a major hospital in the region, the downtown, and our riverfront recapture improvements.
We really see this economic and community development feature as being quite unique, well advanced, and, indeed, able to serve as a model for other transit investments around the country.
The second feature I would just emphasize is this financing strategy. Obviously, Federal/State dollars, public sector dollars, in general, are very scarce. Amounts available to be allocated to investments have to be carefully scrutinized in great detail, and we feel that there has to be a greater amount of accountability and participation from the local level and the private sector in order to merit consideration for authorizations and appropriations at the Federal and State levels, and that is why we are actually issuing our report a week from Tuesday. It will contain this financing strategy.
We believe it will be a precedent-setting feature on what we are seeking by way of private sector contribution, both a pure investment and return on investment parlance, as well as contributions related to the development of the station areas, themselves, that are adjacent to the current landowners and major corporations whose employees would be served by this project throughout the corridor.
So, with those two highlights, I would ask for the committee's consideration for a project authorization for the Federal fiscal year 1997, and we, along with I'm sure everyone else in the room, will be back next spring to talk with you about authorization with the reconsideration of the overall ISTEA successor legislation.
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Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you this morning. We look forward to working with the committee on the development of this innovative project.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
Are there any questions?
Mr. PETRI. If not, we look forward to working with you and also with the Appropriations Subcommittees on this project. It's particularly noteworthy that you're looking forward to financing it with a somewhat smaller Federal share than some might seek, so we thank you for that.
Thank you very much for your testimony.
Mr. EHRHARDT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statements of Ms. Johnson of Connecticut and Ms. Kennelly follow:]
Mr. PETRI. We're joined by our colleague, the Honorable Jerry F. Costello from Illinois, who would like to discuss an important project in the east St. Louis area.
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TESTIMONY OF HON. JERRY F. COSTELLO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM ILLINOIS
Mr. COSTELLO. Mr. Chairman, thank you, and I'd like to thank the members of the subcommittee for allowing me to testify today. It not only allows me to talk about the project, but it gives me an opportunity to talk about my involvement in the project since the beginning.
I'd like to thank Chairman Shuster, Mr. Oberstar, yourself, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Rahall, and the members of the subcommittee and the full committee for placing this project in a somewhat different category than the other projects that you will be hearing about during the course of this hearing.
Before I came to the Congress, I was chairman of the St. Clair County board in my Congressional District, and in that capacity I was also elected as chairman of the region's Council of Governments in the St. Louis metropolitan area, which is known as the East/West Gateway Coordinating Council.
Working with the elected officials and business leaders on both sides of the Mississippi River in Illinois and Missouri in the St. Louis area, we developed a plan to build a light rail system in the St. Louis metropolitan region. The plan called for construction of a light rail system that would go from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, crossing the Mississippi River into East St. Louis, Illinois.
The second phase of the plan was to extend light rail from East St. Louis to Scott Air Force Base, the site of the Mid America Airport, a new civilian airport which is due to be completed and open in late 1997.
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As I think members of this committee know, and certainly people over in the Federal Transit Administration and transit people, in general, throughout the country know, since phase one was completed about 3 years ago, it has been tremendously successful. In fact, I think you will find that the St. Louis system has some of the highest ridership figures of any light rail system in the Nation. People from all over the country come to St. Louis now to study the system to learn how to plan for a successful transit project.
Planning and design work for the St. Clair County extension from East St. Louis to Mid America Airport has been moving forward with funds appropriated by the Congress. In fact, just a few months ago the Federal Transit Administration announced that they were releasing a letter of intent to sign a full funding agreement for this extension later on this year, and we would expect that that full funding agreement will be signed probably in August or September.
Let me explain now why I am here and why I'm before the committee and I am asking the committee to keep this project in a separate category, as has been the practice in the past few years.
In 1991 the committee, as you well know, passed historic legislation, the ISTEA legislation. The St. Clair County extension was authorized in the ISTEA bill.
This subcommittee, the full committee, and the House of Representatives, passed the authorization for the St. Clair County extension in the ISTEA bill. When ISTEA went to conference, the conferees authorized the project when the conference report was reported out the St. Clair County extension was incl uded.
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As some of you will recall--and certainly Mr. Rahall--after the ISTEA conference report was passed by the House and the Senate, we discovered that the St. Clair County extension was accidentally omitted from the final conference report.
We were informed by legislative counsel at the time that the single page, that page of the document, somehow was left out of the final report. Therefore, even though the conferees authorized the project and it was, of course, in the ISTEA mark that left the subcommittee, the full committee, and was voted on by the House and agreed upon by the conferees, the page was left out of the report and therefore technically we were told that it was not authorized.
When Chairman Roe discovered the error, he assured us that at some point in the future he would include the project in a technical corrections bill and, in fact, did so in the ISTEA technical corrections bill. Again, in the 1994 version of NHS, we included the authorization for this project. Unfortunately, as you know, neither of those bills were approved by the Senate.
Mr. Chairman, when we went through a contentious debate in fiscal year 1994 where, at the time, Chairman Mineta raised objections and points of order against unauthorized projects, he did not raise an objection or a point of order against this project, knowing the history of the project and that the committee did authorize it.
Again, Chairman Shuster, earlier this year, in the fiscal year 1996 appropriations funding did not raise a point of order and, in fact, remembered the history of the bill.
Let me just say that this is a tremendous project. It is very successful. The voters of St. Clair County went to the polls about 2 years ago and passed, by a margin of over two to one, a sales tax to come up with the local funds to support the extension.
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I would just tell you that I am requesting, in the fiscal year 1997 appropriations bill, $50 million to proceed with construction. We are at the point where we are beginning construction. We will need $50 million to do so. I would just ask the committee to take the same posture as in previous years and treat this project and put it in a different category.
Mr. PETRI. Are there any questions or comments? Mr. Poshard?
Mr. POSHARD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'd just express my intent to be very supportive of Congressman Costello on this project. I'm very aware of this project. Part of my District used to fall very close to this area, and so I am aware of Jerry's efforts in the beginning on this.
The development of the metro east area, including the use of Scott Air Force Base as a commercial base also, a lot of that is dependent on this light rail system coming there. It's one of the best economic development opportunities, I think, in the history of this area. I think the money that the Federal Government spends on this project will come back to them many times over in the form of increased commerce, and so on, to the ridership in that area.
I just want to echo my support for Congressman Costello on this project and thank him for the tremendous effort and the time he has put forward from the very beginning here and would ask the members of my committee here to be very supportive of this.
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Mr. COSTELLO. Thank you.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Mr. Rahall.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Costello follows:]
Mr. RAHALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I note, Jerry, that the former transit director of our full committee staff is in the audience this evening, Mr. Roger Slagle. Perhaps we ought to subpoena his testimony as to where that missing page is.
Mr. RAHALL. I note also that you do have a full funding grant proposal pending with FTA; is that correct?
Mr. COSTELLO. That's correct.
Mr. RAHALL. So that is an indication of the worthiness of the project and FTA's interest in it, and I think that's a tremendous plus in your favor, as well.
Mr. COSTELLO. It is. We have a letter of intent, and we expect a full funding agreement to be signed in the next few months.
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Mr. RAHALL. All right. Thank you.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Thank you very much for refreshing our memory. We'll be working with you to make sure that this isn't sidetracked.
Mr. COSTELLO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
We're joined by our colleague, the Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson, and Honorable Martin Frost from Texas. I believe they're accompanied by Mr. Billy J. Ratcliff, who is chairman of the board of directors of DART/Dallas North Central Light Rail Extension Project.
TESTIMONY OF HON. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM TEXAS; HON. MARTIN FROST, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM TEXAS, ACCOMPANIED BY BILLY J. RATCLIFF, CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, DART
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the committee.
The year 1997 reconciles the need to continue the course to eliminate the Federal budget deficit with the need to continue to invest in our Nation's economic priorities.
The budget proposed by the President continues to improve the Nation's transportation system in three key areas: by investing further in a safe and modern infrastructure, by encouraging private sector participation in transportation financing, and by advancing technology that allows us to more effectively use our existing transportation assets.
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The national highway system is quickly becoming the backbone of our national transportation network in the 21st century. It will affect every American, directly or indirectly, by supporting sustained economic growth and by enhancing U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace to increase productivity, job creation, a reduction in congestion levels, and augmented transportation safety.
Because I serve a District which is comprised of major thoroughfares both through and around the city of Dallas, it is of great importance to me and my constituents that the President's budget reflect the importance of highway transportation, transit transportation, and aviation transportation.
Mr. Chairman, our transportation network is the key to our place in the world economy, enhancing our competitiveness by increasing our efficiency.
The President's budget for fiscal year 1997 will undoubtedly continue to provide an inter-connected system of principal arteries, arterial routes which will serve major populations, international border crossings, ports, airports, public transportation facilities and other intermodal transportation facilities and other travel destinations, meet national defense requirements, and serve interstate and inter-regional travel.
By focusing Federal resources on these most important transportation networks, we will improve our strategic investment in transportation.
Mr. Chairman, this budget is a product of creative thinking and it represents a commitment to making America's transportation system serve our Nation well.
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As you know, we are in the process at the final phases now of construction to open our light rail system in Dallas, and certainly you're invited to come on June the 14th, but this will be the transportation model for Texas and the Nation for this century going into the 21st century.
I thank you for this time.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Chairman, if I may give my statement next?
Mr. PETRI. Yes.
Mr. FROST. It's a pleasure to join with my colleague, Eddie Bernice Johnson, a member of this committee, of course. I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit System and its request for an authorization of a 1997 fiscal year appropriation.
DART has requested $17 million for the north central light rail transit extension to the 20-mile DART LRT starter system, which opens on June 14th, as Congresswoman Johnson mentioned.
My remarks will be brief, as Billy Ratcliff, chairman of the board, is here to provide you and members of the subcommittee with specific details of their request.
Over the years, I have been a strong supporter of DART, and I'm extremely pleased that the citizens of Dallas will soon celebrate the opening of the southern portion of the transit project, the South Oak Cliff light rail line.
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The opening of the first urban light rail system in Texas is truly a special occasion. This light rail project is a model of local projects using mostly local resources, with only a minimum of Federal funding. DART has provided $700 million of the $860 million total cost from a dedicated transit sales tax, and has stayed within this budget and is on schedule.
DART is providing an over-match of 3.5 times the minimum required by law for the extensions.
I urge you to approve the authorization of $17 million for fiscal year 1997, and appreciate your support in the past and look forward to it in the future.
I appreciate that very much.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you, Representative Frost, for your excellent statement, and Ms. Johnson.
Mr. Ratcliff, would you care to make a statement?
Mr. RATCLIFF. Yes, I would like to do so.
My name is Billy Ratcliff, chairman of the board of Dallas Area Rapid Transit. I'd also like to extend to the members of this subcommittee the opportunity to participate with us on June 14th as we celebrate the opening of our DART area rapid transit project on June 14, 1996.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman Petri, it's my pleasure to come before your subcommittee, along with the Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson and Honorable Martin Frost, on behalf of DART and its request for the authorization of fiscal year 1997 new start appropriation.
I presented testimony to the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee for our fiscal year 1997 new start discretionary fund request of $17 million. The funds will be dedicated to the north central light rail transit extension to the 20-mile DART light rail starter system.
In my written testimony, there are some charts and maps and information that address this particular piece, but the starter system, itself, opens on June 14, 1996, and let me emphasize here that that's only 50 days away.
We are excited in Dallas about the fact that we are about to do something that we think is great. As Congresswoman Johnson has said, this, in itself, is a model and we feel a way that agencies in the future can look at how to fund and implement systems in an area where none have existed before.
The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 authorized $160 million for the South Oak Cliff portion of the 20-mile light rail transit starter system. Besides the specific authorization of this line, the DART transit system plan was authorized as a program of inter-related projects in the Federal Transit Act.
The appropriation of the $160 million was completed in 1996, for an overall 20 percent Federal share of the starter system, and DART has obligated all of these funds.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC DART provided a $700 million, or 80 percent, over-match of the $860 million total starter system cost from a dedicated transit sales tax. DART has stayed within the $860 million budget, remains on schedule and on time for our opening in June.
We have not ignored the other elements of the multi-modal transit system. At the same time, while the starter system is being constructed, DART has spent another $158 million of local capital funds for high occupancy vehicle, commuter rail, and bus projects.
Page two of my written testimony highlights some of DART's major accomplishments over the past several years. I'd like to call your attention to page two and three of my written testimony, which give details of the DART transit system to the financial plans, and the north central light rail transit extension.
The plan calls for the next two light rail extensions to be constructed simultaneously. The north central light rail extends Dallas and Richardson to Plano, while the northeast light rail transit extension extends from Dallas to Garland. Those particular items are a part of the map that I have in my written testimony. Both of these projects are authorized in DART's program of inter-related projects.
The companion DART financial plan continues the $700 million over-match of Federal funds initiated on the South Oak Cliff portion of the starter system by requesting only 50 percent Federal participation of the $370 million north central light rail extension. No Federal funds--again, I repeat, no Federal funds are being requested for the $285 million north east light rail transit line going into Garland.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The result is an overall Federal participation of $185 million, or 30 percent of a total cost of $655 million for both the north central and the north east lines. The 30 percent is but a fraction of the 80 percent maximum Federal share that the law requires.
As seen in the chart on page four, the financial plan projects $6.1 billion in operating expenses, all locally funded; $5.6 billion in capital costs.
Over the 20 years of the plan, Federal funding accounts for only 19 percent of the capital expenditure, or 9 percent of the overall spending.
Costs are based on a specific future schedule of project implementation, as was done on the light rail transit starter system. Any schedule delay would negatively impact our funding, and vice versa.
Our request from your Body is that, in order to honor the commitments made in our transit system plan, that DART needs an authorization in the 1997 appropriation request of $17 million to remain on schedule with the north central light rail transit extension.
In conclusion, as you deliberate the merits of our project, we would hope that you would consider this project what we think it is, and that's a project that's much, much worth what we are about to put into it, and that we would receive the funding that we are requesting from your subcommittee.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you very much for your testimony. You come to us in very good hands. There is no more-effective members of this committee than Representative Johnson, and she is absolutely steadfast in fighting for the transportation needs of Dallas and of Texas and does so very effectively.
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Are there any questions at all or statements?
Mr. RAHALL. Only to second what you said, Mr. Chairman. I couldn't have said it better myself.
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you.
Mr. RATCLIFF. Thank you for the opportunity.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you all.
[The prepared statements of Ms. Johnson of Texas and Mr. Frost follow:]
Mr. PETRI.Our colleague, Mr. Geren of Texas, had a statement he'd like to make, and I'd ask if he would be recognized at this time.
TESTIMONY OF HON. PETE GEREN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM TEXAS
Mr. GEREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I certainly appreciate your accommodating my schedule and allowing me to make this presentation to the committee.
Mr. Chairman, this is my last opportunity to appear before my colleagues on this committee as a representative of the 12th District of Texas, and I'm pleased to be here today to support the reauthorization of a program that is already proving to be a success, the Ft. Worth Railtran commuter train and intermodal transportation center project.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As you may know, Railtran will provide a rail link between Dallas and Ft. Worth along a 35-mile freight corridor currently owned by the two cities. The Railtran intermodal center project was originally authorized in ISTEA for $13.4 million. Due to the project's merits, it has continued to receive funding over the last few years, and I'm here to request that it be reauthorized to complete its funding.
I'm pleased to state that phase one of the Railtran commuter rail from Dallas to South Irving will open this fall. This year we are requesting $27 million in fiscal year 1997 funds to complete phase two, the 25-mile track from South Irving to downtown Ft. Worth connecting the new intermodal transportation center with Dallas.
Phase two is scheduled to open in 1999. And, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to emphasize that a major component and beneficiary of this project is the intermodal transportation center in downtown Ft. Worth. It is a prime example of the intermodal concept that this committee has emphasized. It's located in the historic Texas & Pacific Railway terminal, and this center will tie together the Railtran commuter rail, AMTRAK, Excursion Rail trains, local bus service, inter-city bus service, taxis, rental cars, and we have plans for a vertiport facility--intermodal at its very finest, Mr. Chairman.
The Railtran commuter rail and intermodal transportation center are essential to improving efficiency and meeting transportation needs in our region. Anyone who has driven in this area knows of the congestion that we suffer between the two cities.
Railtran will provide the needed relief to the congestion by using existing infrastructure along this corridor. By the year 2000, Railtran will take the place of 9,000 daily car trips and will reduce auto travel by 32 million vehicle miles per year. It will reduce fuel consumption by 1.5 million gallons per year, and improve the region's air quality.
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As evidence of this, the Texas Conservation Commission has recently added a $20 million grant towards completion of this project.
My final point, Mr. Chairman, focuses on the project's strong and innovative funding program. We've achieved a large amount of local and State participation, with 70 percent of the funds needed for the total $197 million project coming from non-section 5309 funds. Additionally, the FTA financial assessment profile published February 1, 1996, recognized several elements of our funding plan which are consistent with FTA's innovative financing initiative, including our innovative use of $8.5 million obtained from private freight railroad user fees.
I thank the committee for giving me the opportunity to appear before you, and I request your favorable consideration of this request.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MICA [assuming Chair]. I thank the gentleman for his testimony.
Are there any questions?
Mr. RAHALL. No question, Mr. Chairman. I'd just commend Mr. Geren for his effective work on our committee and his leadership on this project.
Mr. GEREN. Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MICA. I also want to reiterate that not only do I thank you for your testimony, but also for your leadership on this and a number of other issues we've worked together on. Thank you.
Mr. GEREN. Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Geren follows:]
Mr. MICA. I didn't plan it this way, but we'll call our next group up. We have the Honorable Bill McCollum, our colleague from central Florida. Mr. McCollum has, I believe, three witnesses. Please come up and be seated.
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, while the panel is coming forward, may I ask unanimous consent that a statement from the Honorable Corrine Brown be made a part of the record at this point.
Corrine being a member of our Transportation Subcommittee, has been very strong and forceful in her leadership on behalf of this project but, unfortunately, is detained by a previous commitment right now.
Mr. MICA. We appreciate her leadership on the issue and, without objection, her statement will be made a part of the record.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Ms. Brown follows:]
Mr. MICA. I recognize Mr. McCollum for the purpose of introductions.
TESTIMONY OF HON. JOHN L. MICA, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM FLORIDA; HON. BILL MCCOLLUM, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM FLORIDA; HON. CORRINE BROWN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM FLORIDA, ACCOMPANIED BY PAUL SKOUTELAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTRAL FLORIDA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, DISTRICT FIVE SECRETARY; NANCY M. HOUSTON, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION; AND JACOB V. STUART, PRESIDENT, GREATER ORLANDO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Well, Mr. Chairman, I am exceedingly pleased to be able to do this introduction. I know, had you not been chairing it, you would have been down here doing it yourself. As I'm sure the members of the committee know, you and I share a portion of the greater Orlando metropolitan area, and today our guests are here because of the transportation system and the effort of LYNX, which has been our main rapid transit community service in the central Florida area--its efforts to try to see if we can't get a 24-mile-plus light rail system built into our area over the next few years.
I'm pleased today to have with me Paul Skoutelas, who is the executive director of the Central Florida Transportation Authority; Jacob Stuart, who is the president of the Greater Orlando Chamber of Commerce; and Nancy Houston, the Florida Department of Transportation District Five secretary.
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I'm going to let them explain pretty much what is going on and what we are asking, but I do want to make the comments myself because the force of business may cause me to have to run out while they're speaking and I would like at least to let the committee know my own thoughts.
We live in one of the most explosive growth areas in the United States in Orlando and central Florida, and in order to alleviate this incredible congestion that we're beginning to get along Interstate 4 in our community, a number of projects have been developed in an effort to do that, but perhaps none is more important than the light rail project which LYNX is here today requesting about $20 million in preliminary engineering and design funding to do this project with.
The State of Florida has already programmed about a billion dollars in highway funding for the Interstate 4 improvements that are needed, and mostly in our area, and $400 million for transit improvements over quite a number of years, and I hope the subcommittee will acknowledge this significant commitment by the State that Ms. Houston is representing here today, and that the money that we're asking to begin this transit program to help with it--it's certainly not, by any means, all of it--is something that the committee will be forthcoming with and authorize today.
I suppose I should turn this over to Mr. Skoutelas, the right one to present this, and Mr. Stuart and Ms. Houston can follow accordingly.
Mr. MICA. I'd like to welcome the panelists particularly from central Florida and thank you, Mr. McCollum, for your introductions.
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We are trying to limit each of the panelists to 5 minutes maximum, so if you would like to summarize your statement, your complete statement will be made a part of the record.
Mr. SKOUTELAS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee. We are pleased to be able to be in front of you today with regards to this transportation request. My thanks to Congressman McCollum and Congresswoman Corrine Brown, as well as yourself, who have been so instrumental in our efforts thus far to take this project forward.
Congressman McCollum mentioned growth, and it is a word that really describes central Florida and the greater Orlando area. One of the things that's striking about our area, if you fly into Orlando and you come visit, you will see our first-class airport. It is by far the finest facility of any kind in the world. What you also notice a few minutes after your arrival in Orlando is that the transportation network is woefully lacking.
Our tremendous growth has left us with a huge backlog of transportation infrastructure projects.
The project that we're speaking of today concerns the Interstate 4 corridor. I-4 is the main street for all of central Florida and greater Orlando. Some 12 different activity centers take access to this road. It provides not only access for our resident base, but also for all of the generators that feed off this interstate highway.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now we're talking about some of the major employment centers, like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World. Some 40 million tourists come to Florida each year, many of whom certainly come to Orlando. That places tremendous pressure and stress on our local road system and our transit network.
We are in the process in the three-county area of expanding that transit network, providing an expansion to our bus fleet, and central to that is the construction of a light rail system.
What is really unique about this project request--and I'm only going to hit on the highlights for you--is some of the elements that have come together at this time to move this forward.
First, our State Department of Transportation has taken the lead in the entire study effort for this 75-mile corridor. That study effort has resulted in a set of improvements that not only include roadway improvements, but also this light rail project.
Our metropolitan planning organization 6 months ago approved of a set of recommendations for Interstate 4 that includes six general lanes for the I4 corridor for highway use, two lanes for high-occupancy vehicles, and a light rail system that ultimately would be some 50 miles.
Our request of you today is for a starter line of about 20 miles for this light rail system.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also unique to this effort is the State Department of Transportation has taken the lead role in both the study effort and its commitment of funds to the project. The State has committed up to $400 million as its share for the ultimate build-out of the 50-mile system and has participated in every aspect of its planning and conceptual design.
Our request today of you is to continue this design effort. The $20 million that we're requesting, the new start category as an earmark, would go to the final environmental impact statement and preliminary engineering. It is essential that this money be made available to us so that we can continue, without losing precious time in the development of this project.
We believe, as well, that one other unique factor to this effort is the private sector interest and involvement. We have been working for the last couple of years with the private sector interests along the International Drive tourist corridor. They are strong advocates of this effort, and we believe that when the final financing for this project comes together there will be a significant private sector effort that will help this go forward.
Also interesting in the project financing is that we are looking for a 50 percent ultimate commitment from the Feds as an earmark. We are committed to providing the 50 percent local share. We think that that is responsive to the direction that the country is going in terms of how to finance these projects, and we believe it's a very responsible way, as well.
I will simply close by saying to you that it is a project that all the eyes are looking at in central Florida. It's important to our continued growth and economic vitality. We would like to reach out to you as partners in this effort as we move forward into the next century.
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We thank you for that and hope to have your support of our project request.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. McCollum, would it be suitable to recognize Ms. Houston next?
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Certainly.
Mr. MICA. Ms. Houston is the Florida Department of Transportation District Five secretary. You're recognized. Thank you.
Ms. HOUSTON. Thank you, and good morning. It's a pleasure to be with you this morning, and I appreciate the opportunity to be here to testify on behalf of this project. As Mr. Skoutelas has already noted, it has been a project of somewhat unique significance in central Florida in that all of the agencies have come together and worked on this project.
The Department of Transportation has been the lead agency. LYNX has been our partner. As we have worked through this, they have been involved in all of the decisions that we have made and have played a very active role.
The Department of Transportation, at this point, has provided all the funds for the work done to date through national highway system funds and also through 100 percent State funding--a combination of those sources.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are now prepared, since we have finished the overall plan and the major investment study and met all of the Federal requirements, to move forward into the draft environmental impact statement process.
The consultants to do that work have been selected. They will be under a contract and ready to begin work next month, and we will have some final alignment decisions and recommendations by the end of this calendar year, so time is of the essence for us in terms of completing that portion of it and then being able to move into the final design for the project.
The highway improvements that are also part of our overall plan are also going to move forward. Those contracts will be underway in July of this year. Again, those are being fully funded by the Department of Transportation through national highway system funds and State funds.
As Mr. Skoutelas has already mentioned, the Department has made a commitment in our long-range 20/20 financial plan for the entire State of Florida for just slightly over $1 billion dollars towards the highway improvements and $400 million for the transit improvements. The first $15 million of that comes over the next 2 fiscal years to match, hopefully, the share that you will provide with us today for the final design work.
We are going to continue to move forward with that in a joint fashion with LYNX. We expect that at some point in the future it will be appropriate for the Department of Transportation to step aside as the lead in this and let the transit agency take over. Fortunately for me, that means I get to stay involved because I'm also a member of the League's board in, again, an attempt to have cooperation between the State and the local transit provider.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The State of Florida recognizes that highway improvements are certainly the backbone of our transportation system in Orlando, and I-4 is certainly the highlight of that in terms of our economic vitality in the central Florida area. It is very important to us to move that forward, but it is also very important for us to move the transit forward because we know the highway can't do all the work that we need to do for our community in the future.
Again, I thank you for the opportunity to be here.
Mr. MICA. I thank you for your testimony. I'd like to recognize now Mr. Jacob Stuart, president of the Greater Orlando Chamber of Commerce. You're recognized.
Mr. STUART. Thank you, Congressman, and Congressman McCollum, thank you for your support.
Ladies and gentlemen of the committee, I'm here as a volunteer. I'm the non-expert here of this panel, and those who have come before me and will come after me know far more at transportation than I do, but I do want to talk about our community. In fact, I bet I could ask people in this room, most, if not all of you, have been there. We welcome 24 million tourists every single year.
We're a community of 1.4 million permanent residents. By every single indication, we'll add a million more permanent residents in 15 years--300,000 homes, we'll double the schools, we'll double the businesses. We simply want to now add diversity to our transportation mix, which is light rail.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, on behalf of the 40,000 businesses in the market and the 40,000 more that are coming, we would ask, just like these other great cities that have come before us--St. Louis and Dallas and San Juan, wonderful cities. We, too, want to be part of this rail renaissance, and we'd like to start now before the second million people join us over the next 15 years.
Congressman, I would also like to add to the record, with your permission, sir, a letter from our mayor, who could not travel with us today but certainly sends her encouragement to you.
Mr. MICA. Without objection, that will be made a part of the record.
We thank you for your testimony. We've now been joined by another one of our colleagues from Central Florida.
The ranking member, Mr. Rahall, has made your statement a part of the record, and I would like to recognize you for any comments you might like to make as part of this presentation.
Ms. BROWN. Thank you. I want to welcome the president of the chamber, and the LYNX, and my Orlando community.
I simply want to say that I'm extremely honored to represent Orlando, and I often say I represent the people, not the characters.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
Ms. BROWN. Chairman, we need a lot of help with the people, moving the people in the central Florida area, so I thank you very much for your consideration of the request.
Chairman Rahall, we're looking forward to your coming back and visiting our area and looking at the needs of central Florida.
Mr. MICA. I thank all of the panelists for their presentation and Ms. Brown for her leadership and contribution to transportation and other projects in central Florida.
Are there any questions?
Mr. MICA. There being no further questions, I would like to comment that, although I'm in the Chair, I strongly support the efforts of the witness in trying to bring some additional assistance from the Federal Government. I appreciate the State government, the local transportation authority, and the business community working together in a joint effort, and appreciate their presentation today.
If there are no other questions, we'll dismiss the panel. Thank you.
I'd like to call as our next panel--I think we have the Honorable William Jefferson of Louisiana. Mr. Jefferson, I don't see Mr. Hayes. You have Mr. Potts with you. I also see Mr. Patrick Judge.
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Would you like to introduce your witness or witnesses?
Mr. JEFFERSON. Thank you.
Mr. MICA. You're recognized.
TESTIMONY OF HON. WILLIAM J. JEFFERSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM LOUISIANA, ACCOMPANIED BY JOHN POTTS, GENERAL MANAGER, NEW ORLEANS REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY, AND PATRICK JUDGE, MANAGER, TRANSIT DEVELOPMENT AND PRESIDENT, LOUISIANA TRANSIT ASSOCIATION
Mr. JEFFERSON. Thank you, Mr. Mica, Chairman Petri, who isn't here right now, Mr. Rahall, and to all who make up this distinguished Subcommittee on Surface Transportation.
This is Pat Judge, who for many years has been involved with regional transit in our area.
I'm pleased to also note that Congressman Hayes, who isn't here, is in fully support of the testimony that I will give and Mr. Judge will give on other projects that we are discussing this morning.
Mr. Judge will outline the details of the proposal. I simply want to say that we in Louisiana and New Orleans, particularly, as folks all over the country are recognizing, recognize that must get away from the combustion engine, bus-oriented transit system and move to light rail systems. I applaud the decision of this committee to think along those lines and our RTA back home for recognizing the need to do that.
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The project that we're talking about ties the Canal Street Corridor Streetcar Line with a number of other transit lines in our city. It also has important implications for our military. This project will meet a service need for many of our military in our city of New Orleans.
Mr. Chairman, the desire street car line that we are proposing be supported by this committee today will provide direct public transit rail access to the city's business district for two major military facilities--U.S. Coast Guard Center and the U.S. Navy's Reber Defense Complex, both located on Industrial Canal.
Also, consolidation of the bus lines will relieve stress caused by large transit buses on the historical structures and architectural treasures located in the French Quarter--Faubourg Marigny and Bywater--important communities in our area, the three oldest neighborhoods in the city of New Orleans.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for extending to me the opportunity to address this committee in support of these requests.
I'd like now for the committee to hear Mr. Judge, who has the details of these requests, and to recognize that Mr. Hayes and others of our Delegation--our entire Delegation supports the request that he is making today.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MICA. I thank you and would like to recognize Mr. Judge.
Mr. JUDGE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee.
I'd like to first apologize for Mr. Potts, the general manager of RTA, who could not be here today due to unexpected pressing business back in New Orleans.
I also would like to thank Congressman Jefferson, Congressman Hayes, and Congressman Livingston and the rest of the Louisiana Delegation for their great support to the projects of the Regional Transit Authority.
I'm appearing before you today to ask for reauthorization and authorization on two major light rail projects that the regional transit authority has. The RTA operates 451 buses and 41 streetcars in New Orleans, and our population is 20 percent transit dependent, which brings it up to one of the highest in the Nation.
We'd like to also express to you our sincerest appreciation for the consideration this committee has given in the past year.
Last year, as you may recall, this committee authorized $10 million for the Canal Street corridor project, and the session before that $44.8 million was authorized. Importantly, the $4.8 was authorized in ISTEA, which got the Canal Street corridor project started.
We are requesting approximately $70 million for the Canal Street corridor project, which is our highest light rail priority. It's an 8.4 mile light rail system, and it will return streetcars back to a corridor that had their streetcars removed in 1964.
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To date, we have received approximately $18 million in Federal Transit Administration funds for that project.
The project has completed the major investment study stage and is now in preliminary engineering. We hope to have it out of preliminary engineering by the end of this year, early 1997, and soon thereafter have a full funding agreement and begin the assembly of streetcars within New Orleans.
We have two innovative approaches to try to keep the costs down on this project. One of them is to regauge our current system to fit a facility already there, and the second is to assemble streetcars in New Orleans.
As I can see, my time is running out.
I'd also like to mention the Desire Streetcar Line, which is the infamous Streetcar Named Desire. Once upon a time there was a line that ran through there, and again we'd like to bring it back. As Congressman Jefferson mentioned, it would service two major military facilities that need access to the central business district.
We're seeking amounts this year to get the study started to get the program going.
Again, thank you very much. I have another statement for informational purposes I'd like to leave with you for the record if that's all right. It's regarding the bus program of the State, bus requests made by the State of Louisiana through the Louisiana Public Transit Association.
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Mr. MICA. We thank you for your testimony. Without objection, your full statement will be made a part of the record.
Mr. Rahall also asks that Mr. Hayes' statement be made a part of the record. Without objection, so ordered.
Again, we thank you for your testimony.
Are there any questions from the committee?
Mr. MICA. We appreciate your testimony. You have a great city. I know you have transportation problems, like so many others, and we look forward to working with you.
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. MICA. Yes, sir.
Mr. RAHALL. Excuse me. Just one minor modification. It's you that makes the request that Mr. Hayes statement be made a part of the record.
Mr. MICA. Yes.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RAHALL. He's on your side.
Mr. MICA. Yes. I'm sorry. Things happen so quickly around here. He used to sit on the other side of the aisle, but thank you for reminding me. We're pleased to have Mr. Hayes on this side of the aisle.
Mr. Jefferson has also been a good supporter on the other side of the aisle for projects for his community, and we appreciate his leadership.
I thank you again for your testimony.
We'll excuse this panel.
Mr. JEFFERSON. Thank you, sir.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Jefferson follows:]
Mr. MICA. I would like to call now--I see Mr. Gibbons from Florida and Mr. Turanchik. I don't see Mr. Canady, our colleague from central Florida. Welcome.
Before we begin, I was going to recognize Mr. Kim for a statement.
Mr. KIM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for recognizing me.
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I represent a portion of Orange County, California, which has a very large but unauthorized transit project under construction right now.
Orange County Transitway is about a $2.7 billion project. It consists of 108 miles regional Transitway and also includes an HOV-network.
The State and local share of this project is $2.46 billion, or 91 percent. Let me repeat again: the local contribution on this project is 91 percent. We're only asking 9 percent of Federal transit appropriation money.
Again, today we are scheduled to hear testimony in support of a $10 million appropriation for Orange County Transitway. Since the Orange County Transitway project was in its early planning phases during the original ISTEA authorization, it wasn't ready for authorization at that time, but I'm confident that this committee would have approved this transit project. It has already received appropriations in 1991.
You may recall that our subcommittee approved language in last year's NHS bill authorizing $5 million for Orange County Transitway. Although transit authorizations were ultimately removed from the bill, it was clear at that time that our committee recognized the importance of this transit project.
Again, I'd like to thank you again and express my strong support for a $10 million appropriation project for this very important project in Orange County Transitway.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman and member of the committee for his comments. They'll be made a part of the record, and any other material, without objection.
Again, we appreciate our next panel's participation, particularly Mr. Gibbons, who has shown so much leadership in the Congress over the years. I'd like to recognize him for the purpose of a statement and introduction.
TESTIMONY OF HON. SAM GIBBONS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM FLORIDA; AND ED TURANCHIK, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY COMMISSIONER
Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate this and I appreciate the fact that you're accommodating me, because I have a speech that I have long scheduled and I must make downtown today.
Mr. Canady would be here. He's interested in this project, but he's tied up in one of those controversial markups over in Judiciary right now and he asked me to please express his regrets and his support of this project.
Mr. Chairman, you know the State of Florida as well as I do, and you know that the interstate system connecting Tampa and Orlando is so badly over-crowded that it is just an enlarged parking lot. We badly need some alternative to Interstate 4, one of the oldest interstates in the United States. It is a death trap. If they make it 18 lanes wide, it's still going to be crowded. And, unfortunately, because Congress has been so timid about increasing the gasoline tax, I just don't see the revenue for making much change there.
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Maybe by going to rapid rail we can relieve some of the congestion between Tampa and Lakeland. Tampa's the heart of my District and Lakeland is the heart of Mr. Canady's District, and we are cooperating trying to get this project going.
Mr. Turanchik on my left here is a county commissioner in Hillsborough County, and he has been spearheading this project, so I want him to explain it, so let me yield my time to him now.
Mr. MICA. We thank you for your statement and your introduction.
You're recognized, Mr. Turanchik.
Mr. TURANCHIK. Good morning, Mr. Chairman.
Congressman Gibbons, thank you very much for the introduction. We appreciate your support and that of Congressman Canady.
Mr. Chairman, it's a pleasure to appear before the committee today to talk about a project that's very important to greater Tampa Bay region known as HARTRail. We have put a map over on the right-hand side which sort of gives you a perspective of what we're talking about.
There are approximately 2.5 million people in the Tampa Bay region. The black portion of that map--the colors are blue and black in honor of the Tampa Bay Lightning which, by the way, had the largest hockey game in the history of the NHL yesterday. That tells you how things are changing in this country. The black is the HARTRail system. The green is the proposed State high-speed rail system. And the blue represents regional opportunities for expansion of what we are calling the HARTRail system.
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I'm here today on behalf of Hillsborough County, the city of Tampa, our Metropolitan Planning Organization, HART Line, as well as the Tampa Bay Commuter Rail Authority, and I'm also authorized to represent, in addition to Congressman Gibbons and Congressman Canady, the interest of Polk County and city of Lakeland.
Earlier this year we appeared before the House Appropriations Committee requesting $3 million to complete a major investment study in fiscal year 1997 and continue the development of this system. This is an amount which will supplement the $1 million that this committee has previously earmarked, as well as $4 million in State and locally-controlled funds. I'm here to brief the committee today on the status of this project.
Of course, I know some of the committee members here are familiar with this. In 1994 the committee reported and the full House passed the national highway system bill which authorized $16.3 million for the Tampa-to-Lakeland corridor. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Rahall, we particularly appreciate your support and the opportunity you gave to us to visit with you on that project.
Since then, however, we've had some extraordinary events happen in the Tampa Bay area. The most extraordinary thing was that the corporate sector came together and 20 corporations, with their own money, started to look at this rail system as more than just a corridor project but as a regional project. They put their own money together to do a feasibility study of a different kind of system, which is shown up here. The results of the study were impressive.
We determined that we could greatly expand upon the Tampa-to-Lakeland corridor and build a 70-mile regional transit system for a total estimated cost of $309 million, or $4.4 million per mile. As you know from your testimony you receive, this is a very competitive, low-cost system.
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I hasten to add, the system would serve all our major employment areas, Tampa International Airport, all our attractions, the University of South Florida, Tampa International Airport.
This low cost is made possible by the use of existing rail rights-of-way, some existing stations, and diesel multiple units which can be operated like conventional light rail vehicles and are equivalent in cost to light rail but do not require electrification of the lines and can be used in a freight environment.
This is particularly important because most of those lines are existing freight lines used by CSX that only have one train a day on them; thus, CSX and we have reached an agreement for the operational use of this system. We are now negotiating the financial aspects of that. That's unusual for other parts of the country where CSX operates many trains, where passenger use can't work. We are just uniquely situated.
After receiving the results of this private study, the MPO immediately looked at three different alternatives: all road, bus/rail, and all bus.
The last alternative, a road/bus/rail scenario, showed that it was the best way of reducing the amount of roadways needed, increasing the quality of life, benefiting air quality, and providing for mobility. As a result, this system is now part of our long-range transportation plan. In fact, because of the flexibility in ISTEA, we have about half of the capital funding for this program budgeted in our long-range transportation plan.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We also used DOT's transportation model--and this is not a ridership model but a planning model--to figure out what ridership on this system would be. Depending on the frequency of the trains, it would be between 28,000 and 70,000 daily riders.
A marketing study was then done--again, not using any Federal dollars--and we determined that 61 percent of our residents currently support this program, which is amongst the greatest amount of support received to date in any new rail start.
If I may just quickly wrap up, Mr. Chairman, the most extraordinary part about this system is that there are only two local governments involved. We have the unique opportunity to combine transportation planning, land use planning, and public financing in a unique way. We're looking at creating transit-oriented design districts around each station and creating a system-wide tax increment finance district which will take a portion of the property taxes generated from the station development and put it in a transportation trust fund to pay for the operating cost of the system. To our knowledge, it will be the first time in the country that such a system was done and where we capture the value that transportation and rail transit brings to actually pay for the operation of the system.
My testimony includes what the other funding sources are for this. There has been a lot of State and local dollars put into this. We are requesting $3 million to match that.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, we think we have developed a unique transit opportunity in our region. It was spawned by the private sector, which funded the study. It has already generated widespread support. It is extremely competitive in any peer comparison and is being pursued in a planned development environment where opportunities for totally integrating transportation, land use, and public finance are abundant.
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We hope that we can illustrate for you the merits of this project and the importance of our receiving $3 million in fiscal year 1997 for a 50 percent share of its further development.
Mr. Chairman, Congressman Gibbons, thank you very much for this opportunity.
Mr. PETRI [resuming Chair]. Thank you both.
Are there any questions?
Mr. PETRI. I had one of the commissioner, and that is that on--if you could just explain in a little more detail--maybe I wasn't listening as closely as I should have been, but in our part of the world we have something that we call TIF districts, or tax incremental financing districts. I think Minnesota pioneered it. It's been very successful as a way of financing public/private projects--downtown urban renewal, parking, all kinds of things. Is that what you're thinking of doing in terms of your getting the increase due to the development of this mass transit project?
Mr. TURANCHIK. Precisely, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Using that revenue stream to help pay for the project?
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. TURANCHIK. Precisely. We can create a marketable instrument if we choose to use it for capital, but I think our strategy is to use it for operating.
So if you take a land use pattern that would develop out of two units per acre, for example, if you put a rail transit system there, because we control land use, we can have ten units per acre. The increment on that--it's no new taxes, but the increment on that--we take a small portion of that and put it into our transportation trust fund.
We've determined that if you just took 20 percent of the new tax dollars brought in, it would pay for the operating cost of the entire system. So the more growth and development that comes around the system, the more money that's used to increase frequency. So you get a real synergistic affect.
We've tried to take what people have done in other places and learn from that and combine them in a unique way. Plus, we're dealing with a unique technology. So we're real excited about it.
Mr. PETRI. Do you know of other places in the country where this financing technique has been used for transit or highway projects rather than other--
Mr. TURANCHIK. Mr. Chairman, there are some limited examples of that, but it has been particularly used to deal with station development issues.
The first high-speed rail proposal in the State of Florida contemplated financing the high-speed rail system to develop rights. We sort of borrowed from that idea. But we are not aware of any other place in the country that has attempted this. It is a very interesting way of capturing the value of a transportation investment.
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Mr. PETRI. We're busy searching around, as Representative Gibbons knows, for ways of squaring the circle to finance things so that they can move forward. If you're successful in this, I suspect you'll be widely--your precedent will be widely followed in other places around the country. At least we'd be interested in taking a look at it.
Mr. TURANCHIK. If I may add, Mr. Chairman, the Department of Community Affairs of the State of Florida, Secretary Murley, and the governor are also very interested, and they have offered to work with us in our next State legislative session to create tax increment finance legislation that is broader than our current powers. I believe south Florida is also interested in that model.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you both.
Our colleague from Colorado, Representative Schaefer, is accompanied by Mr. Clarence Marsella, the director and general manager of the Denver Regional Transit District.
I'd like to welcome you both.
TESTIMONY OF HON. DAN SCHAEFER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM COLORADO, ACCOMPANIED BY CLARENCE (CAL) MARSELLA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND GENERAL MANAGER, DENVER REGIONAL TRANSIT DISTRICT
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Mr. SCHAEFER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I'm going to be very brief in my opening remarks, knowing that the committee's time is very, very valuable.
I just want to thank you for scheduling time for us on this matter.
I'd ask, without objection, to have my statement submitted as part of your record.
Mr. PETRI. Without objection, it will be.
Mr. SCHAEFER. I have had a long, long history of supporting the Southwest Corridor. Almost all of the right-of-way has been purchased. If has been worked on and studied and restudied and triple studied over a period of time. It's being supported by the local governments and all other interested entities. It will go about 8.7 miles from downtown all the way through to the south part of my District. So, we're all looking forward to getting this one moving finally.
As far as I know, there is very little opposition. There are always people who oppose something, but in generally it's very, very well supported in the State of Colorado and particularly in the metropolitan area.
With that I would like to turn it over, any statement that he might wish to make to Clarence Marsella, who is the general manager of the Regional Transportation District. I'll let him answer any questions and make a statement.
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Mr. MARSELLA. Thank you, Representative Schaefer.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to address you and request support for our southwest corridor development.
As you may be aware, this corridor is basically an extension of an existing central corridor, which Denver built with 100 percent local funding to the tune of over $150 million.
This corridor is well on its way to completion. We've already completed preliminary engineering and we've already received a record of decision on the environmental impact statement.
It does enjoy the support of the regional government and the Conference of Mayors and local municipalities within which it's located.
I must say that, coming from some other properties--and I've only been in Denver less than a year--I was very concerned with the model and ridership projections for our rail system because oftentimes our ridership doesn't meet our expectations. Exactly the opposite has occurred with our central corridor. Our ridership is higher than was originally anticipated. I've recently, within the last couple of weeks, had the distinct displeasure of having to have cars towed out of our parking lots because we have an over-subscribed system at this point.
Denver, you may be aware, is a very environmentally-sensitive community, and the response to the rail development has been very, very positive, exceeding our expectations.
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We're currently in the process of demolishing buildings and expanding parking capabilities along that corridor to accommodate our demand.
The project, itself, is about 8.3 miles. We anticipate over 22,000 riders a day by the year 2015. I am certain the corridor is one of the fastest-growing corridors in the Nation, the Douglas County area. Without a major transportation infrastructure investment, we'll have some serious problems in meeting that demand and we'll have a quality of life issue that exists now and is growing day by day.
We request $8 million in appropriations this year to simply do what we call ''connect the missing link.'' We already own the right-of-way along this entire corridor except for two small pieces that would require $8 million to purchase.
I've had the opportunity to walk parts of the corridor, and the pieces that are missing are particularly conspicuous. It's delaying our ability to complete some up-front work in terms of preliminary engineering and design, and we need to purchase these before we get other offers, some other areas.
We're working very closely with the railroads, but timing is of the essence. This is necessary for us to proceed with the design and engineering of this corridor.
Again, we request the total sum of $8 million as our first installment of a full funding grant agreement. We feel that it's extremely critical to Denver's well-being at this point to complete this right-of-way acquisition, and we would very much appreciate the committee's support for this request.
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Mr. PETRI. Thank you for your testimony.
Are there any questions?
Mr. PETRI. I think they're at least vaguely familiar with your project over at the Department of Transportation, too.
Mr. MARSELLA. Yes.
Mr. PETRI. Other things being equal, probably inclined to--
Mr. MARSELLA. Yes. As a matter of fact, DOT, Federal Transit Administration all very much support this, Mr. Chairman, and, again, it's something that's long overdue and we desperately need to be able to purchase the rest of the right-of-way and then we can get on with the show.
Mr. PETRI. Right. Thank you.
Mr. SCHAEFER. Thank you, sir.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Schaefer follows:]
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PETRI. We're joined by our colleague from California, the Honorable Robert Dornan, who is representing regional interests today. We look forward to your statement, sir.
TESTIMONY OF HON. BOB DORNAN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA
Mr. DORNAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize to my colleagues because I actually lost my place in line, so I'm going to be extremely brief here and submit most of my testimony for the record.
I understand that Mr. Kim, on your distinguished subcommittee, had already spoken a little bit about this. It's basically continuing what we have already been trying to do in Orange County, California. I have to say that because Florida has a great Orange County, and so do nine States overall, including Florida and California.
But in our Orange County, this is a request for the Orange County Transportation Authority's continuing appropriation of $10 million for the OC Transitway project in the 1997 transportation bill.
I've submitted more-extensive testimony for the record, and I will not even touch on the highlights because I know you have it in front of you.
We, in Orange County think--and the prior democratic chairman graciously conceded this--that we put up so much local money and are so visionary in the way we share in the cost of all of our surface transportation projects, that I've been told by both sides of the aisle it's an inspiration to the whole country, so please consider us favorably. Keep things moving ahead, and we'll keep trying to do it right out there in one of America's great nine Orange Counties.
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Mr. PETRI. We appreciate your testimony. We're all aware of how tenaciously you've fought for adequate funding for development projects in your part of the world. You've had lots of needs because of the tremendous growth that you've experienced in the Orange County/Southern California area, and so I think it's probably been an appropriate use of your time. We look forward to working with you on this.
Mr. DORNAN. Mr. Chairman, of the ten heaviest-traveled intersections in America, sometimes three but certainly always two are right there inside my District and one just on the edge of my District, so we appreciate whatever help we can give you, and in the wintertime all America can come and still enjoy Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland.
Mr. PETRI. Very good.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Dornan follows:]
Mr. PETRI. I think we're still waiting, but we may as well proceed with the group from southern Florida. I know Representative Johnson and Clay Shaw and Ed Colby are here and a few others.
Can you go ahead?
TESTIMONY OF HON. E. CLAY SHAW, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM FLORIDA, ACCOMPANIED BY ED COLBY, DIRECTOR, METRO DADE TRANSIT AGENCY, AND ALLEN C. HARPER, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, TRI-COUNTY COMMUTER RAIL AUTHORITY ; HON. HARRY JOHNSTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM FLORIDA; HON. PETER DEUTSCH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM FLORIDA; HON. CARRIE MEEK, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM FLORIDA; AND HON. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM FLORIDA
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Mr. SHAW. Having been a part of this committee once, I recognize the importance of time and keeping things moving along, and I certainly want to do that.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Rahall, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, on behalf of the members of the South Florida Congressional Delegation, I would like to extend to you our appreciation for allowing us the opportunity to testify on several very important transit projects in our region.
The three projects that you will hear about this morning--the Tri-County Commuter Rail, the Metro Dade/Miami Northwest Corridor Transitway, and the Metro/Dade East-West Corridor Miami Intermodal Center--have been enthusiastically supported by the local MPOs, the municipal and county governments, and the State representatives.
I would also like to stress that these projects have allowed the South Florida Congressional delegation to work together towards a mutually beneficial goal of alleviating our region of its congested roadways.
I would like to start out this morning to talk about the Tri-County Commuter Rail, or the Tri-Rail, which runs through Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade Counties and connect such metropolitan centers as West Balm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami, as well as the major international airports in each county.
Tri-Rail has operated since 1989 and has been receiving annual Section Three capital appropriations from Congress for the last 5 years. In addition, it has received funds from the Florida DOT and local communities.
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Thus far, 80 percent of the capital project funds have come from State sources and only 20 percent from the FTA funds appropriated by Congress.
I understand that this subcommittee and the House have approved Tri-Rail authorizations twice before--in 1994 and 1995--only to see the underlying legislation pulled from the House/Senate conference report for unrelated reasons.
Despite this, Tri-Rail has continued to prosper. Now, however, authorizing language is especially important, since Tri-Rail has moved forward with its multi-year, double-tracking and corridor improvement project which will allow commuter train service to be increased from every hour to every 20 minutes. This will greatly improve the public's ability to use Tri-Rail.
You know, it has been interesting to watch the Tri-Rail grow over the past years. I think you, Mr. Chairman, and you, Mr. Rahall, both have seen the Tri-Rail system.
Not only has Tri-Rail become the primary mode of transportation for thousands of daily commuters; it has become a welcome alternative to driving for tens of thousands of South Floridians traveling to watch the Florida Marlins and the Miami Dolphins play at Joe Robbie Stadium.
I believe that there are still many unforeseen benefits to Tri-Rail and I believe that if there is any region that needs a commuter program like Tri-Rail, it is South Florida.
Mr. Allen Harper, the chairman of Tri-Rail board of directors, has submitted more-detailed written testimony to the subcommittee for the record, which I ask to become part of the record.
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I respectfully request that the subcommittee approve the appropriate authorization language for all three of the South Florida projects, and favorably recommend the same to the full committee and to the House.
I thank you for your consideration, and at this time will yield to Mr. Johnston.
Mr. JOHNSTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. If I may, I'll file my statement for the record, since I will make some of my remarks extemporaneously, having lived in Palm Beach County now 64 years.
There are a few transportation facts for Florida, which I'm sure you're aware of. We now have 14.2 million people. We are the fourth ranking in the United States. Our population growth between 1990 and 1995 was the third largest percentage-wise. We now have 11.4 million vehicles in Florida, which is the third in the United States. We have 121 billion vehicle miles traveled in 1994.
Florida accounts for over 5 percent of the revenues going to the Federal highway trust fund. That's the third ranking. We receive $0.73 per dollar to the highway trust fund, which is 47th in the United States, and we receive $0.80 per dollar since 1956, which is 45th.
As the chairman of our Florida Delegation, Mr. Shaw, said, Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County now have over 4 million people located in this area. You have to visualize the demographics of it. On the east is the Atlantic Ocean. We can't go that way. On the west is the Florida Everglades. So we have this corridor running north and south for Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties for over 100 miles.
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Parallelling that you have U.S. 1, I-95, and the Florida Turnpike, which absorbs the vehicular traffic running north and south.
Interjected between that is the Tri-County Rail. Without that, south Florida will suffocate. We cannot operate north and south without the Tri-County Rail supplementing the transportation there.
In Palm Beach County now we have the state-of-the-art VA hospital. It is the newest and maybe the last one that's going to be built in the United States. Tri-Rail will go right to the doorstep of the VA hospital.
Just one little vignette. I had a student in my office last week. Palm Beach County runs 40 miles north and south. We have a magnet school in West Palm Beach in the center of the county. I asked her how she got to the school every day, and she said, ''I come by Tri-Rail from Boca Raton.'' Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Lake Worth fill up two cars of students every day coming to West Palm Beach. Why? Because we cannot afford to put them on I95 for health and safety reasons, number one, and it is much more economical.
I ask you to look at this again. It is very, very important to our economy and to our transportation system.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
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Mr. SHAW. Mr. Chairman, seated to Mr. Johnston's right is Ed Colby from metropolitan Dade County.
Mr. PETRI. Ed, do you wish to make a statement?
Mr. SHAW. Why don't you come on up?
We are still waiting for a couple of our Members, but I want to try to keep it moving right along.
Mr. COLBY. Okay.
Mr. PETRI. I believe Mr. Colby is a transplant, having started out in California and moved south and east to Florida.
Mr. COLBY. I'm about as far away from home as I can get in Florida.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Rahall, Mr. Mica, it's good to be here this morning. I'm going to try to be the pinch hitter here.
This morning the subject that I'm going to talk about is the east-west corridor, which is the second chart there, and the Miami intermodal center at the airport.
This is the cornerstone of our program of inter-related transportation projects which was first submitted to this subcommittee in January 1994. It's a 24-mile designated transportation corridor through the heart of Dade County. It does many things and it encompasses what some people call one of the most congested expressways in Florida, but actually it is the most congested expressway in Florida. You can live on it if you try to drive it.
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It connects many key areas of the county, the Florida International University on your left, the Florida Turnpike, the Fountainbleu Park, Miami International Airport, Seaport along the Miami River, the Orange Bowl, Miami's downtown business district, the Port of Miami, Miami Beach, including the convention center and major hotel areas.
East-west traffic in Dade County--we are the fourth most congested city in the United States. You're here in the second-most congested city in the United States, Washington, D.C.
The central feature of this project, of course, is the Miami intermodal center, which we call the MIC, which will be directly east of and connected to the MIA terminals. It will house and be a natural extension of the airport and will house--Tri-Rail will come to that, Metro Rail will come to that, local bus, inter-city bus, Metro Rail, and the airport/seaport connectors.
With all of this together, it makes it a very viable project. It's the hub for all of these things, plus two toll expressways running both on the north and the south of the airport.
The future high-speed rail, which Florida is moving ahead on, will also come into this area and will also provide some additional parking for private automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians.
This international cargo handling at both MIA and the Port of Miami is growing at double digit rates. International cargo at Miami International Airport ranks number one in the country now and it's number two in international passengers.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC An airport is not worth much if you can't get to it, and we're experiencing that problem more and more and more.
This project will relieve Dade County's ever-growing congestion of both commercial and private transit, including congestion at MIA, the port, and Miami Beach. Miami Beach is--the art deco district, of course, is a world attraction, not just a United States attraction, and as we continue on, the traffic gets worse and worse and worse.
The port, of course, is the number one cruise port in the world, having nearly 50,000 passengers per weekend which move from the airport to the seaport, which causes further problems for us. This corridor will go a long ways in relieving that.
What's requested from this committee is $545 million in contract authority, which will take us through the next version of your authorization bill, and we request from the Appropriation Committee a $1 million appropriation this year so we can continue moving it on in the process.
The lead agency on this project is not the MDTA, it's the Florida DOT. It's truly an intermodal project and all of us are working together, along with all of the modes of the Federal Government.
Over 70 percent of the total cost will be financed from local, State, joint development, or self-financing resources. Attached to the written submittal of this testimony is a detailed explanation.
On behalf of Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, I want to thank you for your consideration of this project.
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Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
Mr. PETRI. I see you are being accompanied now by the Honorable Ros-Lehtinen, and our colleague Carrie Meek. I know Peter Deutsch is here. I think you're on a different project than--
Mr. SHAW. If we could proceed, I would like Rep. Ros-Lehtinen to close, if that's satisfactory.
Mr. PETRI. However you want to do it, that's fine.
Mr. SHAW. Who would like to go next?
Mr. DEUTSCH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for being a couple minutes late. This committee has the distinction of actually starting right on time, which I appreciate.
I have some written testimony I'd like to submit to the record.
Mr. PETRI. Without objection.
Mr. DEUTSCH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm here to add my support. Dade County, Florida, has six Members of Congress; Broward County, Florida, has four Members of Congress representing it. All of us are in total support of the Tri-Rail authorization.
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Tri-Rail runs, and I know you are relatively familiar with the project, but it is a project where the State of Florida has contributed $364 million and the Federal Government has contributed $40 million. It's a project which is working, and we need to continue.
It is a cost-efficient project in terms of the alternative in many, many ways, whether it means physically trying to expand I-95, which I don't even know how practical, but at what cost.
It is a challenge to get people to start changing behavior in terms of using mass transit, but, in fact, it is working, and there is no reason to think that it will not continue.
I've actually been on Tri-Rail twice in the last couple of months, and if more people got on it and used it, I think it would just continue.
I urge the committee to support what it has done in the past and continue the multi-year project of Tri-Rail.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you for your statement.
Mr. MICA. Mr. Chairman, thank you for recognizing me out of order. I just wanted to put a word in--I do have another commitment at noon--particularly for Tri-County Rail and also these projects in south Florida.
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Having worked in the Senate when some of these got started some years ago, they are important. The State and the Federal Government have a multi-billion dollar investment there, and it's so important that they come together in an intermodal fashion now as they are proposing, so I'm very supportive of that.
I also want to take just a second to thank Tri-Rail. In central Florida we're just beginning this process. We're probably 20 years behind, but Tri-Rail and Metro Dade and others have sort of taken central Florida by the hand and helped us, and we appreciate that so much. They are doing a great job down there, and they are helping other parts of the State, and I just wanted to comment and thank them for their leadership.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Let's see. Who's next? Representative Meek?
Ms. MEEK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Surface Transportation Subcommittee. I'm really thankful for this opportunity to address the subcommittee today, and it's regarding a project that is of great importance to the economic well-being of south Florida, as well as all of our Districts.
Let me see if I can get right to the point. We really need contract authority for about $324 million in Federal transit funds for this project. It will be the best transit investment ever made by this committee, particularly to south Florida. That investment will be one that will bring returns and economic gain to all of South Florida, as well as gain to the individuals who live in this area.
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It's already seen by Congress, before this 104th Congress as a very wise investment, since it has already received considerable Federal transit funding for the pre-construction phase, which you were good enough to allow.
This past project development funding has been supported both by the House and by the Senate, and both the democratic and republican leadership, although the project, itself, has not yet been authorized.
I'm pleased today to come back and ask you and tell you a little bit again about the north county transit corridor project.
Although the plan was not mature enough to be considered for inclusion in the ISTEA when it was enacted in 1991, much progress naturally has been made in the past few years, and the project will soon be eligible for a full funding grant.
I'm hopeful that this subcommittee will favorably consider this project, as have the Appropriation Committees of both Houses and the Administration.
This corridor is a fixed guideway extension of the existing metro rail line northward to the northern boundary of Dade County, within a very highly-concentrated area. That's the 27th Avenue Corridor--lots of businesses are there. The community college is there, the stadium is there. There are just so many things on 27th Avenue which makes transportation real, real important and valuable.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have taken advantage--in our area people look at the fact that in a lot of urban areas many of the transportation projects across the Nation took advantage of economically disadvantaged communities because the real estate component is cheaper than in any other areas. But thank goodness this particular project doesn't do that and the Federal funds were limited, and funding decision-makers looked primarily at cost efficiency factors to determine these priorities.
I won't go on and on, but I just wanted you to know that this area deserves it. The south Florida area deserves transportation. This is a very impacted corridor and we certainly need you to consider the fact that we need $324 million to complete this project, and we do hope that the subcommittee will see fit to consider our bid favorably.
I will do this, Mr. Chairman: I will leave the rest of my testimony here for the record so that I won't take up all the time.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Without objection, your full statement will be placed in the record.
Mr. PETRI. We're joined by the Honorable Lincoln Diaz-Balart, and if you have a word you'd like to add?
Mr. DIAZ-BALART. Chairman, thank you. I will not take up much of the subcommittee's time. I'd like to submit my written statement for the record, if I may.
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Mr. PETRI. Yes, without objection.
Mr. DIAZ-BALART. I'd simply state that I'm here today and am very pleased that my colleagues from south Florida and Mr. Colby have been able to explain some of the rationale for our support of these important projects. I'm here today simply to strongly support one of those projects, the Dade County East-West multi-modal corridor, Miami intermodal center project, and would seek the subcommittee's support for authorization and contract authority so that it may continue its implementation journey.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
Mr. PETRI. I think last, but certainly not least, is our colleague Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.
Along with Congressman Diaz-Balart, I also want to speak for a few brief seconds about the east-west corridor and the Miami intermodal center because this is the centerpiece of Dade County's plan for inter-related transportation projects.
This project has become a national showcase of inter-agency cooperation at both the Federal and the local level. This combined roadway and transitway project will become a major link connecting Miami's international airport with the rest of south Florida's major transportation facilities, including Metro Rail and Tri-Rail.
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Your support for the initial stages of this vital project is crucial in order to maintain its schedule of completion, which is designed to keep the Federal contribution at a low level over the next 15 years.
On behalf of the Metro Dade Transit Agency, Tri-Rail, and the county commissioners of all the counties--Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach--we wish to thank you for taking the time to listen to all of our important requests, because they will greatly improve the daily commute for the residents of south Florida.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
Are there any questions of this panel?
Mr. PETRI. If not, I have, and I think some others on our committee have had the opportunity from time to time to visit several of the communities, either personally or by video tape, in Clay's case, when the pressing business prevented us from being there physically, as we'd hoped to. We know that this is a very hard-pressed area because of the rapid growth and because of the configuration of the terrain in south Florida.
We look forward to working with you on trying to do our share to meet some of these needs.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think we're also aware that Florida is a donor State, and therefore that should lead to a little extra consideration of some of the needs that you have in your region.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you very much.
Mr. SHAW. And, Mr. Chairman, I hope, too, you will note that we finished 5 minutes ahead of schedule, or about 7 minutes ahead of schedule, and that's worth a couple projects right there.
[The prepared statements of Messrs. Shaw, Johnston, Deusch, Diaz Balart, and Ms. Meek follow:]
Mr. PETRI. We're joined by the newest member of our committee, Representative Millender-McDonald. We're looking forward to getting to know you better, and I hope you enjoy serving on this committee as much as Mr. Rahall and I have and I think most of the other Members.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, if I might formally welcome Ms. Millender-McDonald to our subcommittee--although officially I don't believe a member yet, but you are a member of our full committee anyway at this point. She does replace our former colleague, Congressman Tucker.
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Before coming to the Congress, Juanita served in the California State Assembly, first being elected in November of 1992. She earned acclaim by challenging and defeating two entrenched incumbents in the democratic primary in order to represent the 55th Assembly District. Prior to that, she was on the Carson City Council, the first African-American woman, and during the second year in that office she was elected to serve as mayor pro tem.
She was very active in the California Legislature, addressing a number of issues, a wide range of issues, but she did start her professional career as a teacher, I might point out.
We're very happy to have her on our full committee. I look forward to her appointment to this subcommittee. Again, we want to recognize and welcome her to this subcommittee.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you. Thank you so much. I would like to add that I am new to this committee and to this Body, but certainly not new to transportation issues. I served on Transportation Committee in the House in the California State Legislature and have several bills that have already passed on the Alameda corridor. I think you're all familiar with that corridor. Not only will it help California, but it will help all of the Nation.
I am so pleased to be here to listen to the testimony and to give input when needed, and I thank you so much for welcoming me to this subcommittee.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
Turning to a project that's across State lines, I'd like to welcome the Honorable Rob Portman and Honorable Jim Bunning, accompanied by: the mayor of Cincinnati, Roxanne Qualls; the vice mayor of the city of Blue Ash, Walter Reuszer; Marvin Thompson, city manager; and Clyde Middleton, the judge executive of Kenton County; as well as Robert Horine from Covington, Kentucky.
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I think everyone's here. I probably have mangled a few names, and I apologize for that.
Mr. Bunning, would you care to proceed?
TESTIMONY OF HON. ROB PORTMAN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM OHIO; HON. JIM BUNNING, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM KENTUCKY, ACCOMPANIED BY HON. ROXANNE QUALLS, MAYOR, CINCINNATI, MARVIN THOMPSON, CITY MANAGER, CITY OF BLUE ASH; HON. CLYDE MIDDLETON, JUDGE EXECUTIVE, KENTON COUNTY, KENTUCKY, AND ROBERT HORINE, ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER, COVINGTON, KENTUCKY
Mr. BUNNING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to thank the chairman and the members of the subcommittee for giving us this time today to testify in support of our request for $3 million to continue the work on the environmental impact study and preliminary engineering on the I-71 corridor project between southern Ohio and northern Kentucky.
Because time is limited, and because we have local officials from northern Kentucky and Cincinnati waiting to testify, I won't say much. I've submitted a more-detailed statement for the record.
However, I do want the members of this committee to know how important this project is. The I-71 corridor, which connects southern Ohio and northern Kentucky, is going to become a devastating bottleneck. We need to continue the work on this project so that we can prevent that from happening.
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This subcommittee has seen fit to include this project in the last two national highway system bills. We cannot short-change the project now. We have already invested $3.5 million in it.
I respectfully request your committee to give every possible consideration to authorizing the $3 million we need to complete this phase of the project.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Mr. Portman?
Mr. PORTMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank the members of the subcommittee for hearing us out.
As Mr. Bunning said, this is for the congested I-71 Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky corridor. In the interest of time, I would like to submit my full statement for the record and just briefly summarize two key points.
First, I believe this is an appropriate request because there is a very important Federal nexus here. There is a strong interest at the Federal level in our interstate highway system and also in reducing interstate air pollution.
The I-71 corridor now faces very serious congestion problems and it runs through parts of our region that are already considered non-attainment areas under the Clean Air Act.
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The Federal Government must assist in the effort to address both of these concerns but, of course, do so with the fiscal crisis clearly in mind, and that brings me to my second point, which is that I think this is a very fiscally-responsible proposal.
We are asking for what we actually need, and since the request even last year, Mr. Chairman, we've seen a substantial increase in the local and State commitment to this project. In fact, of the 28 State and local jurisdictions involved in this project, 27 have now either paid or are under contract to pay for this phase of the project.
Last year I was not supportive of the 80/20 Federal and State and local match approved by the Appropriations Committee. In light of our Federal budget crisis and the inability of the Federal Government to fund the bulk of the actual construction cost, which would be next, I thought it was only fair to require that the State and local jurisdictions pay up to 50 percent of the cost of this phase of the project. And I'm very pleased to say that, in fact, we do now have a 50/50 match--in fact, a bit in excess of that. That's thanks, in large measure, to the local officials who are with us here this morning.
I want to thank you again for giving us the opportunity to testify. We're certainly available for any questions.
I now have the pleasure of introducing two of our elected officials who are with us here, both of whom are good friends and dedicated public servants in our community: first, the Honorable Roxanne Qualls, mayor of the city of Cincinnati; and then second I think we'll hear from the Honorable Marvin Thompson, who is city manager of the city that works, Blue Ash, Ohio.
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Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
Mr. PETRI. Mayor Qualls?
Mayor QUALLS. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, on behalf of the city of Cincinnati and the greater Cincinnati area and the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, I want to thank you for this opportunity to ask for your support for the $3 million from the Federal Transit Administration section three program, which we have requested in the fiscal year 1997 Department of Transportation Appropriation Act. Such monies would be for the preparation of the environmental impact statement and preliminary engineering on the heavily-traveled northeast Cincinnati/northern Kentucky corridor.
All of us present want to thank the subcommittee for its past support. Funds for this project were authorized in the national highway system legislation passed by the House of Representatives last year and the year before.
Funds were appropriated in the fiscal year 1994 and 1995 Department of Transportation Appropriations Act for major investment analysis, and in the fiscal year 1996 Department of Transportation Appropriations Act for draft environmental impact statement preliminary engineering.
We have obligated the fiscal year 1994 and 1995 appropriations and are currently in the process of preparing and filing the formal grant application for the fiscal year 1996 appropriations. Our goal is to identify the best transportation options for this rapidly-growing corridor.
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The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Council of Governments, of which I am the president, has moved quickly to implement the project. We are currently nearing the completion of the second phase of a three-phase effort which will result in a locally-preferred option. We have just completed an aggressive community involvement effort which attracted over 400 citizens who provided their opinions on the various alternatives.
We are following a three-phase process to arrive at our locally-preferred alternative.
In phase one, which we completed in the fall of 1995, a wide range of alternatives were submitted to a fatal flaw analysis and public review. At the conclusion of phase one, approximately 15 alternatives were advanced into phase two.
We are now nearing completion of that phase in which the alternatives are being screened for transportation service, environmental effects, and general cost.
Early this summer, phase two will be completed with three to five alternatives continuing into phase three. The alternatives will then be subjected to detailed evaluation, which includes travel time savings, safety, level of traffic service, capital costs, operating and maintenance costs, and cost effectiveness.
The final alternatives, along with the results of the detailed evaluation, will be taken to the public for their review and comment, and at the conclusion of this phase a preferred alternative or combination of alternatives will be detailed and presented to local government officials.
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This project is advancing because of the broad support amongst government officials and private sector leadership. As you've heard before, it is an essential project for this corridor.
I would like to now welcome the city manager of Blue Ash, who will continue to talk about the cooperation which it has received to date.
Mr. THOMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, for giving us the opportunity to discuss a project that we, in the Cincinnati metropolitan area, are extremely proud of--a project which is of utmost importance to our future economic health and community well-being, and importantly has multi-jurisdictional bipartisan support: the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Northeast Corridor.
Nearly all of the local governments in the corridor, including my own, the City of Blue Ash, have contributed financially to the effort. This unprecedented regional, bipartisan, multi-jurisdictional participation and support is illustrative of how committed we are to addressing our transportation problems.
We are here today to request your continued support so that we can solve our existing and future transportation problems, while at the same time protect our economic base and the quality of life of our future generations.
The corridor, in addition to serving the cities of Cincinnati and Covington, serves the urban communities which have a daytime population far exceeding the residential population, as is evident in Blue Ash, which has about 13,000 residents, but 2,000 businesses resulting in a daytime population of 70,000.
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A number of our key Blue Ash business leaders have expressed concerns for how to not only relieve traffic congestion, but also provide public transportation so that workers currently of lower and modest income levels can be hired by their companies.
An improved public transportation system for this corridor would certainly allow for potential workers within the city of Cincinnati and other areas to benefit from increased employment opportunities. It is imperative that we provide for alternative transportation modes.
We appreciate your time, consideration, and assistance.
Mr. HORINE. Mr. Chairman, I'm Robert Horine, assistant city manager for the city of Covington, Kentucky.
We thank you, Mr. Chairman and the members of the subcommittee, for the opportunity to be here and talk about this really remarkable, exciting project that's drawn together the community in a way that I've never seen it happen before--drawn all the jurisdictions and people from all parties to work on the project.
This corridor serves my city, the city of Covington, and numerous other Kenton County communities, as well as Boone County in Kentucky. In fact, at the south end of the corridor is the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, which is the fastest-growing hub airport in the country. We're increasing from about 5 million enplanements in 1991 to over 14 million enplanements after the year 2000. This is all because of a Delta Airlines hub expansion at that location.
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Major downtown and riverfront redevelopment is also underway. The Commonwealth of Kentucky has recently funded a new convention center for northern Kentucky right in the middle of this corridor.
All these factors indicate growth and development, and our area is one of the fastest-growing in the midwest, but these factors also mean problems with congestion and air pollution if we don't prepare for them.
Because of this growth, it's estimated that travel in this corridor is going to double by the year 2010. That's going to mean an additional 100,000 vehicles a day in the corridor. We in northern Kentucky already refer to the major interstate highway through the corridor as Death Hell.
The successful completion of this project is critical to our safety and our economic well-being.
We appreciate your consideration and your assistance. Thank you very much.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you. I'm very familiar with the Cincinnati Covington Airport because one of the areas in the country it serves is northeast Wisconsin. Delta flies from Green Bay and Appleton. Alas, I've not made it from the airport into beautiful Cincinnati. That's one of the most pleasant places in our country, and historically interesting to live--the ''Paris of the Midwest,'' I think they used to call it, or something of that sort.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. QUALLS. I hope you'll sometime find yourself in Cincinnati.
Mr. PETRI. Why doesn't anyone live in Blue Ash? Why do they all work there and then go somewhere else?
Mr. THOMPSON. We do have 13,000 residents, and many of them do work in the city, but also many of them work in downtown Cincinnati. Many of the suburbs have the same situation.
This project would be a two-way thing. It's not everyone going to downtown; it would be a two-way benefit very much in the metropolitan area.
Mr. PETRI. Are there any other questions?
Mr. LATOURETTE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll be very brief. I just want to commend our colleagues, Mr. Bunning and Mr. Portman, and also Mayor Qualls and the city managers for bringing this project.
I have the honor of living at the other end of I-71, and we were sort of hoping that you'd bring the Cincinnati Bengals up and become the new Cleveland Browns.
I do have one question. I'm more than impressed by the 50/50 contribution and the fact from the testimony that 27 out of 33 communities contributed to that. That should be a model to others.
Those of us in Ohio--and I direct this to you, Mr. Portman or Mary Qualls--we just had a restructuring by the Ohio Department of Transportation in terms of prioritizing projects. As you get down to phase two and you see three to five final choices in your selection process, one of the concerns of this committee has been authorizing a project that never then sees the light of the day by the State.
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I assume that you have a strong commitment from the State of Ohio to see through whatever you come up with in phase two and then beyond. Would that be accurate?
Mr. PORTMAN. Mayor Qualls has pushed the microphone my direction. I'll now push it in her direction. I will say I think she's very capable of answering that question, but the State of Ohio has had a commitment to this project from the outset, and that the Ohio match continues to be strong. I would see no reason that they would want to withdraw their support at this time, but I'll let Mayor Qualls answer more specifically.
Mr. QUALLS. Thank you. Yes, the State of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Transportation are committed to this project. They have provided matching funds, along with local governments.
In addition to that, this project is included in the TIP--transportation improvement program plan--on the local level, and also as we prepare the future TIPs, it is included in those TIPs.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you all for your testimony. I appreciate learning more about this.
[The prepared statements of Mr. Portman and Mr. Bunning follow:]
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Mr. PETRI. Our next panel is led by the Honorable Frank D. Lucas, and he is accompanied by Mr. Randy Hume, who is the administrator of the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority; and Mr. Harold Stansberry, chairman, Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority.
Gentlemen, welcome. Mr. Lucas, if you'd care to lead off, you're recognized.
TESTIMONY OF HON. FRANK D. LUCAS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM OKLAHOMA, ACCOMPANIED BY RANDY HUME, ADMINISTRATOR, CENTRAL OKLAHOMA TRANSPORTATION AND PARKING AUTHORITY; AND HAROLD STANSBERRY, CHAIRMAN, CENTRAL OKLAHOMA TRANSPORTATION AND PARKING AUTHORITY
Mr. LUCAS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, for allowing me the opportunity to come before you today to voice my support for a project critical to the continued economic growth of Oklahoma City.
In December 1993, the voters of Oklahoma City approved a $0.01 sales tax to fund a $286 million initiative called ''The Municipal Areas Projects''--MAPS. Some of the improvements included are: construction of a new ball park, arena, a learning center, and renovation of the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, the Myriad Convention Center, and the Civic Center Music Hall.
I must commend Mayor Ronald Norick for galvanizing overwhelming local support for these projects and the citizens of Oklahoma City for recognizing that such economic development can be achieved at the local level with a minimal level of Federal support.
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Over 95 percent of the necessary funding for MAPS comes from the $0.01 tax approved by the voters. The only portions of the MAPS projects that requires Federal matching funds is the transportation link that would connect MAPS sites, as well as other attractions in Oklahoma City.
The city of Oklahoma City expects to spend $21.7 million to support the link, including $13 million in Federal funds spread out over the next 2 years.
I believe Congress should recognize the tremendous efforts that are underway in Oklahoma City and grant this amount to assure completion of the transportation links.
The funds would come from the new start rail fund and would not constitute new spending. Last year Oklahoma did not receive any funds from this account, despite paying into it, of course, through various transportation-related taxes. In fact, as a donor State for transit funding, Oklahoma has historically received a minimal percentage of its Federal contribution.
I think it also is worth noting that last week we commemorated the 1-year anniversary of the tragic bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The aftermath of this horrible tragedy, of course, has made me very proud to be an Oklahoman. The citizens and leaders of Oklahoma City worked long and hard and have continued to heal the physical and emotional wounds inflicted by this calamity.
Despite these odds, there clearly is much desire now as ever to complete the MAPS project and further develop Oklahoma City. One of the proposed stops on the transportation system would be at the site of the former Murrah Building.
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I again would like to thank the committee for indulging me and allowing me to make this statement. I hope the committee will look favorably upon this project.
Mr. Harold Stansberry, chairman of the Central Oklahoma Transit and Parking Authority, and Randy Hume, administrator of Metro Transit in Oklahoma City, are here to present the transit link project in much greater detail. It's certainly my privilege to present them and introduce them to the committee for their remarks, if that's appropriate, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you very much. Our colleague and another representative from Oklahoma, Bill Brewster, had a statement he would like to make.
Would you like to make it now, Bill?
Mr. BREWSTER. Yes, Mr. Chairman, if I could. I have a hearing in another committee shortly.
First, I want to thank my colleague, Congressman Lucas, for being here with the Oklahoma City contingency in what I think is one of the best projects of which I'm aware.
I have a statement to submit for the record, as well.
Mr. Chairman, we have a situation where all of us say that cities should help themselves. Oklahoma City voted a $0.01 sales tax for 5 years to help fund these projects. Many people come here and ask for Federal money to do projects. Oklahoma City is in a position to match whatever Federal monies are provided. I think this is a classic example of what we ask people to do and the way projects should be done.
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This is an opportunity for the Federal Government to help people help themselves, and that's what our whole contingency should be about.
We're certainly supportive of everything Congressman Lucas said, and we're certainly supportive of the Oklahoma City project request, and any way we can help we certainly should.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Brewster follows:]
Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
Gentlemen, which of you would like to proceed? Mr. Stansberry?
Mr. STANSBERRY. Chairman Petri, Mr. Rahall, Congressman Brewster, it's a real honor for me to sit here next to my own Congressman. I live in Congressman Lucas' District.
The mayor of Oklahoma City, Mayor Ron Norick, is out of the country. He's in Amsterdam. He may be planning on annexing that, or something to that effect. He has been very busy.
Our sales tax project of 1993 is the largest metropolitan area projects program that has ever been accomplished or attacked by any city the size of Oklahoma City.
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The voters gave overwhelming approval to this $0.01, 5-year sales tax, which will produce approximately $285 million.
As the Congressman has said, a new arena--we have a learning center, our library. We have a triple-A ball park which is presently under construction, plus renovation of our fairgrounds, our civic center music hall. Many such attractions in the Oklahoma City area included for improvement under this particular program.
Our private sector also is involved in this. Already we have commitment for two large hotels which will be constructed adjacent to our convention center.
Of this tax program, $3 million was set aside to match Federal grants for our MAPS link, and the link is exactly what the name implies. It connects these attractions that we are going to build from the program with the city, other attractions that we have within the city--hotels, parking, and this sort of thing.
Our transportation link was developed with Federal guidelines through a major investment study.
This link program is the only MAPS-related project which we are seeking funding for. This set-aside will provide adequate funding for us to support two segments of an overall transportation plan connecting a wide range of attractions in the metropolitan Oklahoma City area.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The west segment will be connecting some 4,000 hotel rooms in the area of the I-40 Meridian corridor to downtown Oklahoma City, and they will have stops at other attractions throughout the area, including the Oklahoma State fairgrounds, which attracts some 3 to 4 million visitors each year. They have approximately 1,800 event days per year there at our fairgrounds.
We plan to use a rubber-tired type service, hopefully some vintage type-looking vehicle, like a trolley or something to that effect, which will add to our convention area.
Special shuttles, of course, will be provided for special events from these various hotels to downtown Oklahoma City.
We've programmed a portion of our section 5307 formula funds for this segment, with a total cost of $2.3 million.
Our downtown segment is the area that will be our rail trolley circulator, our link, similar to that type of vehicle that's in operation in Galveston, Texas, possibly fueled by compressed natural gas or diesel, operating a generator which will provide the electricity to operate the wheel.
Overall, in this project, the link project, the city will expend some $21.7 million, which includes lighting, landscaping, street work, bridges, etc. And the $13 million requested from the section 5309 will comprise approximately 60 percent of the total cost.
The Federal Transit Authority has authorized our carrying on with preliminary engineering and the environmental assessment, and we have provided information to them and requested the link project be included in the FTA's report on funding levels and allocation of funds to Congress.
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The benefits of this project are many. Some $27 million will be added to our economy, some 600 new jobs will be made available in the area, and at least 2.2 million will be added each year to our convention and visitors business.
These are just a few of the benefits that we will enjoy from this particular project.
The year 1996 is an important one for Oklahoma City. We've come through a pretty dark year and, as the Congressman alluded, had an anniversary of the terrible bombing of April 18, 1995, but the city has come from this a much stronger city. We have had support from all over the country on this particular bit.
Our project is small compared to other projects that you'll have presented before you, but, nonetheless, it is important to Oklahoma City.
We have requested the appropriation of funds totaling some $13 million, and we are requesting today that your subcommittee authorize the transportation link as a new start project under ISTEA to be paid for from the mass transit trust account.
In conclusion, I'd like to say this project can be accomplished with your help.
As I said earlier, it's the largest project of its type that has ever been attempted by any city the size of Oklahoma City. The cost is effective. The local share is in place. We're committed to spend these funds in a timely manner, and the local funding sources are available to maintain and to operate the system.
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I'd like to express our appreciation again for the courtesy you've extended to us in hearing us today. We believe that this link is a valuable and environmentally-sensitive mobility project that warrants setting aside $13 million to help us in Oklahoma City.
Thank you for your courtesy.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
Mr. HUME. No statement, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Stansberry did give our statement, and I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr. PETRI. You're very ably represented with one of the more energetic young Members in Mr. Lucas, and we look forward to working with him and with you in moving this project forward through the authorization process.
Thank you all.
Are there any questions?
Mr. PETRI. I think not. Thank you very much.
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Mr. STANSBERRY. Thank you very much.
Mr. LUCAS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lucas follows:]
Mr. PETRI. I think our colleague from Oregon is here, accompanied by Mr. Tom Walsh. We know there are votes on the floor, but why don't we try to see if we can't, especially since there is going to be a series of votes, get your testimony on behalf of the Portland-Westside project.
TESTIMONY OF HON. ELIZABETH FURSE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM OREGON, ACCOMPANIED BY TOM WALSH, GENERAL MANAGER, TRI-COUNTY METROPOLITAN TRANSIT DIRECTOR
Ms. FURSE. Thank you so much. We will try and move this through as fast as possible.
Mr. Petri, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, I want to thank you for this opportunity to testify today.
The subcommittee, I believe, should be commended for reviewing projects that may be reaching their authorization limit, as well as those which are being operated on a contingent commitment.
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Our Hillsboro-Westside light rail project falls into both of these categories. The project currently has $515 million in section 3 funds authorized under ISTEA, and the Hillsboro extension has a contingent commitment of $74 million.
I want the subcommittee to know that the Westside project is currently within the authorization limit, and the Administration's fiscal year 1997 budget request is also within the authorization level. However, I want to bring to your attention a few issues that may require your assistance in the future: an increase in the cost of the tunnel, the procurement of the first fully-accessible low-floor cars in North America, and the Hillsboro segment--these three projects.
First, I want to let you know how important this project is to me and my District and Oregon. It will serve the rapidly-growing suburban communities of Beaverton, Hillsboro, and Washington County. And I should note that Washington County is accountable for half of all high-tech manufacturing investment in the United States in 1995. The county is booming. Companies such as Intel and Nike and many others have announced new expansion projects in the region.
The Westside-Hillsboro project works in concert with our wonderful land use laws. It is critical to the region's strategy to respond to rapid growth and create jobs and reduce traffic congestion. Public support for the project, Mr. Chairman, remains very high. Of the voters in the District, 73 percent voted to raise their own property taxes to make Westside a reality.
As with any major construction project, there are unforeseen circumstances, and I would like to tell you that I have been monitoring this project very closely and I am extremely impressed with the managers, who have reduced cost, found savings where possible, and addressed problems in a swift and effective way.
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I would like to bring to your attention the three issues before I turn this over to the Tri-Met's general manager, Tom Walsh.
One, the low-floor cars: in response to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the region has agreed to design and procure the first fully-accessible, low-floor light rail vehicles. Obviously, the initial costs are high, but because of Tri-Met's effort, the technology will be available to other cities around the country who want to meet the ADA requirements.
In 1994, the NHS bill reported by the full committee acknowledged in that report that the low-floor cars would go beyond the authorized ISTEA levels. In addition, in 1993 and 1995 transportation appropriations bills contained language recognizing the need for Federal help to bring about this technology.
The costs identified by Tri-Met originally were expected to be about $35 million, but Tri-Met has managed to reduce this to $9.5 million.
The second issue is the tunnel. You have heard about our terrible flooding, but one story you didn't hear was that the flooding had affected our project, and that was because Westside light rail is going through this tunnel, and therefore the rail was protected. Had we adopted a surface alignment, Mr. Chairman, that line would have suffered untold millions. But tunnelling is a difficult business, and even with the exhaustive research, the unexpected volcanic rock conditions have resulted in delays and an increase of $25 million to the Federal share of the costs. But Tri-Met has addressed the issue head-on and has tried to minimize the additional cost.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I will just quickly get to the third one, Hillsboro. As you're aware, the NHS bill approved by the full committee included important provisions pertaining to Hillsboro. The Hillsboro section of the project costs approximately $224 million, but because of a section 3 shortfall for the project in ISTEA, the Portland region has reduced the Federal share of the Hillsboro extension from $167 million, or 75 percent, to $74 million, or 33 percent. We are prepared to pick up that cost, and I believe that the efforts of the region are a good example of fiscal prudence that has been exercised.
In conclusion, I would very much sincerely like to thank you for letting me speak before you today. The Westside-Hillsboro project is critical to our region's future, and I hope that you will take these issues under consideration as you move forward to reauthorize ISTEA.
[The prepared statement of Mrs. Furse follows:]
Mr. PETRI. Thank you very much.
Mr. PETRI. Mr. Walsh, we're going to have to be running over to vote in about 3 minutes. We don't want to short-change you. Would you like to wait until we come back, or could you give your statement in that period of time?
Mr. WALSH. I could do it within that period of time.
Mr. PETRI. Good. Go ahead.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WALSH. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you, and, Congresswoman Furse, thank you also.
Let me focus, Mr. Chairman, specifically on the tunnel Congresswoman Furse has described, the evolution of the low-floor cars, and that piece of technology thoroughly for you.
The tunnel is some 17-million-year-old formation of volcanic rock. Congresswoman Furse has described adequately and fully for you why we chose the tunnel.
Why a problem in a tunnel of this nature? We performed 12,000 lineal feet of borings to explore that rock before executing the contract documents. We knew and we know today everything about that rock except a single thing, which is how that rock will perform when a boring machine is placed against it. And what we all expected and what our geotechnic expert said would happen--that would could literally grind through this rock--turned out, in major cases, not to be the case. Rather, as we broke into this formation some 260 feet below the surface, the heading ahead of the tunnel boring machine literally began to crumble, and it was as if you were digging into a gravel pile.
What happens then in that kind of formation is the need to grout extensively ahead of the tunnel boring machine to solidify the material--extensive delays and cost overruns.
We have some 30,000 lineal feet in two tunnels 21 foot in diameter. The nature, literally, of the problem which has caused this cost overrun was the crumbling of the rock. Could it have been detected prior to the time we inserted the tunnel boring machine? In the professional judgment of experts from around the world, the answer is no.
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But the real story I would tell you for just a moment this morning was more about the solution. Typically, what happens in large public works projects when the unexpected happens is that everyone is paralyzed and everyone looks for someone else to blame.
We turned, as is typical for Oregon, back to our community, seven very talented executives from the business community who had experience in large construction projects, and said not how do we fix the blame, but how do we fix the problem.
Two things came out of that. One, on the technical side, we turned literally to a worldwide panel of tunneling experts from Denmark, from Italy, from the Peter Hewitt Company in Omaha, and we found solutions. They involve modifications not only to the machine, but to our grouting techniques.
And then, most importantly, within the contractual documents, within the full funding grant agreement, we looked for the business solution that we might employ with our engineers and our contractor.
I can tell you today that those solutions are working. They are working well.
We are back nearly to the production rates that were envisioned originally in this contract. The project will open on schedule in September of 1998, but we have a substantial problem, which is why we come before this authorizing committee, with cost overruns on the tunnel portion only. Every other part of the project remains in budget.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We do seek your help through the authorizing process, however, with that one specific element.
Thank you for the chance to speak, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Are there any questions? I see we're joined by another representative, Mr. DeFazio.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was delayed a bit because I was in a markup in Resources, but I want to commend Tri-Met and Congresswoman Furse for her support and for the fact that we are doing an extraordinary job of containing costs, despite unforeseen difficulties, and would urge the committee's favorable consideration.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Assuming there are just two votes on the floor, we'll recess now and come back as close to 1:00 as we possibly can.
The committee stands adjourned.
Mr. PETRI. The subcommittee will come to order.
We're pleased to be joined by two of our colleagues, the Honorable William Coyne and Frank Mascara, I think accompanied by Bill Millar, who is the executive director of the Port Authority of Allegheny County.
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Gentlemen, you're recognized for whatever statements you'd like to make.
TESTIMONY OF HON. WILLIAM J. COYNE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM PENNSYLVANIA; HON. FRANK MASCARA, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM PENNSYLVANIA, ACCOMPANIED BY BILL MILLAR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PORT AUTHORITY OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY
Mr. COYNE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to be here today regarding the Pittsburgh Airport busway project.
I am pleased to be here today with Bill Millar, the executive director of the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, and with my colleague, Congressman Frank Mascara, who also represents Allegheny County. His District will also be served by the busway when it is completed.
The Port Authority of Allegheny County has worked tirelessly to develop an integrated system of highways and mass transit services to facilitate the movement of people and products within our region.
Local officials recognize the importance of adequate infrastructure in attracting and retaining the businesses that are responsible for economic growth; consequently, the region has supported innovative solutions to its transportation challenges.
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One of the most important projects currently underway is the Pittsburgh Airport busway, and with that I'd like to turn this presentation over to my colleague, Congressman Mascara.
Mr. MASCARA. Thank you, Congressman Coyne, and thank you, Mr. Chairman, for granting me the opportunity to testify today on behalf of the Pittsburgh Airport busway project.
I'm pleased to join my good friend and colleague, Congressman Coyne, with whom I share a portion of Allegheny County--and we'll be the recipient of the busway--and Mr. Bill Millar, executive director of the Port Authority of Allegheny County.
I have had the pleasure of working with Mr. Millar during my years as a county commissioner in Washington county, Pennsylvania. Mr. Millar is nationally recognized among public transit officials, having been named transit manager of the year by the American Public Transit Association in 1987. He has long represented southwestern Pennsylvania, serving as executive director of the Port Authority since 1984.
During this time, Mr. Millar has overseen some of southwestern Pennsylvania's greatest transportation growth. Today the Port Authority of Allegheny County is the Nation's 12th largest public transit system. I can attest that Mr. Millar appears before you as an experienced leader in transportation issues, who has a history of successfully responding to Pittsburgh's growing needs.
I lend my support to this cause because I, too, believe that the tens of thousands of travelers and workers who drive to and around the city of Pittsburgh every day deserve more efficient transportation options.
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Before coming to Congress, I served for 6 years as the chairman of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Planning Commission and chairman of the region's Transportation Plan Policy Committee, which had the responsibility of implementing the region's ISTEA plan and the national highway system plan.
During that time, I supported this project and its inclusion on our plan in accordance with the provisions of ISTEA. I became interested and deeply involved in infrastructure projects, and I speak before you today as someone who has both first-hand experience with transportation needs and an appreciation for the Federal/State/local partnership which must occur if regional infrastructure demands are to be met.
As Mr. Millar will expand upon, to complete the current stage of the busway project, the Port Authority of Allegheny County is asking for approximately $15 million in Federal funds to supplement the State and local financial contributions. This funding will complete construction of phase one of the airport busway, a high-occupancy vehicle facility which runs for 8.1 miles through some of the most heavily-traveled routes in Pennsylvania. This busway facility will help alleviate some of the congestion caused by the 140,000 vehicles that travel this direction daily, and another 100,000 vehicles that occupy the Parkway West that links the city of Pittsburgh with our international airport.
Every day, thousands of my constituents who are employed at Pittsburgh's new $750 million airport are caught up in hours of congestion when they leave these crowded and over-used roads on their way to and from work. This situation will become nightmarish when the Fort Pitt Bridge, which is scheduled for reconstruction, is closed.
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In anticipation of the closing, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has recognized the airport busway project as one of its top priorities.
Furthermore, my years as chairman of the Regional Planning Commission and the Transportation Plan Policy Committee taught me that transportation improvements contribute to more than purely infrastructure improvements. I can attest to the vital role a strong and viable transportation system plays in stimulating our Nation's economy.
Studies around the world have shown a strong correlation between infrastructure development and sustained economic growth.
The airport busway project is a key strategy for the economic transformation of southwestern Pennsylvania, a region which has endured severe economic distress with the collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s.
Without adequate funding, new economic opportunities in the corridor between downtown Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh International Airport are threatened by an inadequate, under-built transportation network. Thwarting these developments because of inefficient transportation funding is both an unwise and short-sighted decision.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, I would like to reiterate my support for the airport busway project. I believe the project is necessary to respond to transportation and economic demands. As southwestern Pennsylvania continues to expand, new transit options such as the busway project will enable it to effectively handle the growth.
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I thank the subcommittee for its support and its endeavor and look forward to working with you to ensure the Pittsburgh Airport busway project is successfully completed.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
Mr. PETRI. Mr. Millar, you've been very well introduced, and so we look forward to your presentation.
Mr. MILLAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me thank both Congressman Coyne and Congressman Mascara. They have supported this project, as they have told you, for many, many years, and I appreciate very much their taking the time out of their schedules to accompany me today.
I have previously submitted my written testimony to the committee, so I do not intend to read the testimony; however, I want to make two or three quick points, and then I would be very happy to respond to any questions that you might wish to make of me.
First, the airport busway project, as Congressman Mascara has described, is a unique project. It encompasses both busway technology, which was pioneered in Pittsburgh, as well as HOV, and we believe it will make a big difference in our local economy.
It was a good idea just to improve the service for the 22,000 people a day who already use transit in that corridor. It became a better idea when our brand new world-class international airport opened up, and it became a great idea when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation realized that they had to replace the critical link in our interstate highway system in Pittsburgh.
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As a result, this has been declared to be the number one traffic mitigation strategy by the Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, in that area.
This committee has supported this project for many years, and we're grateful for that, including the inclusion of earmarks for this project in the ISTEA legislation, as well as general authorization for the project.
However, this project has been funded out of several different portions of Federal legislation, and there has been confusion about exactly how much funding is authorized for this project.
We do have a full funding agreement that envisions a total of Federal and State funding of $326.8 million, and we have received most of that funding. In fact, I was before the House Appropriation Committee on February 28th seeking some $37.5 million in funding for this project; however, on March 21st the Federal Transit Administration Gordon Linton came to Pittsburgh, was able to reallocate some funding for this project, and so today, instead of asking for $37.5 million, because of the good work that Gordon Linton did on behalf of this project, I'm here today asking some $15.1 million.
Now, money in that amount is authorized under section 1069 of the ISTEA legislation; however, in the past the Congress has, at times, been unwilling to fund that section of the law, and for this project sometimes it's funded section 3 bus money for this program or new start money.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC From our standpoint, so long as it's spendable coin of the realm we don't care really what section of the law it comes out of. What's important to us is that we're able to obtain, through the authorization and appropriations process this year, some $15.1 million to finish out the basic budget funding of $326.8 million.
Again, I want to thank the committee for its support over the years. I want the thank you for the good efforts on behalf of public transit, in general.
I'd be happy to answer any questions that you might have.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you. We appreciate your bringing some good news and are happy to hear of the progress you're making in putting this thing together and getting Federal funds reprogrammed and hopefully appropriated.
I don't have any further questions.
My colleague, Bud Shuster, wanted very much to be here while you were testifying because of his interest not only in sort of central Pennsylvania, but in the northwest part of the State, or northwest/central part of the State, Pittsburgh, but he couldn't make it. But we look forward to working with you and with the Appropriation Subcommittee on keeping this on track.
Thank you all very much.
Mr. MILLAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statements of Mr. Coyne and Mr. Mascara follow:]
Mr. PETRI. Our colleague, Cynthia McKinney, is here, and you're invited to come forward and make such statement as you wish, I think on the DeKalb County light rail project.
TESTIMONY OF HON. CYNTHIA MCKINNEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM GEORGIA
Ms. MCKINNEY. Mr. Chairman, thank you for allowing me to come before your committee today.
I would also ask unanimous consent that I may be allowed to submit my remarks for the record.
Today, as your committee considers unauthorized transit projects, I want to make the committee fully aware of my effort to fund a project not currently authorized.
More specifically, I'm seeking funding for a feasibility study for a light rail line in DeKalb County, Georgia.
Metropolitan Atlanta is the fastest-growing major metropolitan area in the Nation. DeKalb County, a major part of metropolitan Atlanta, is the second-most populated county in the State of Georgia, with over 577,000 residents and a projected growth to 719,000 residents by the year 2010. This growth is bound to exacerbate current stresses on the county's increasingly insufficient transportation infrastructure.
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Regarding DeKalb County's transportation infrastructure, 75 percent of our commuters drive alone, and only 8 percent use public transportation to reach their work daily. Moreover, almost half the county residents work within the county.
Clearly, these present factors contribute to the daily traffic jams that occur throughout DeKalb County's employment-dense corridors.
While MARTA's rail system serves the city of Atlanta, Fulton County, and DeKalb County, only two lines are dedicated to serve DeKalb County, and the vast number of rail stations exist outside of our county.
I am here to ask funding from this committee to conduct a study that would explore the feasibility of a light rail line in DeKalb County.
MARTA, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, estimates that $1 million would be necessary to complete the study. Such a study would assess the feasibility of the line and its impact on the community or communities it would serve.
Two communities immediately come to my mind that would benefit most from a light rail line. First is the Emory community that is home to the University, Center for Disease Control, and several other prominent health institutions. In this corridor, these institutions and other businesses are densely packed together throughout residential communities. Presently buses run from MARTA's Linberg rail station to serve the surrounding area.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Here a light rail line would minimize neighborhood congestion as it travels along existing streets, stopping at corners at simple shelters rather than elaborate stations.
A light rail line could also serve southern DeKalb County. Presently the community between East Lake and I-20 depends much more heavily on public transportation than any other part of the county. Light rail in these neighborhoods will serve a purpose different from the needs in the earlier example.
A light rail line stretching from Candler Road and I-20 to MARTA's East Lake rail station would help residents commute to jobs that are not in their neighborhood.
Mr. Chairman, regardless of which community is served by light rail, I know that light rail would relieve the growing traffic congestion in DeKalb County. A preliminary study by MARTA, or even the Atlanta Regional Council, could assess the effectiveness of increased public transportation in the county.
Again, I thank you, Mr. Chairman and your committee, for the opportunity to appear before you today. I ask that I be permitted to submit written testimony later.
Mr. PETRI. Without objection, that will be done.
I and the committee staff will look forward to working with you and people in your office on this study request. We hope we can do it.
Ms. MCKINNEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. McKinney follows:]
Mr. PETRI. We've been joined by the Honorable Harold E. Ford, our colleague from Tennessee, accompanied by Mr. William Hudson, the executive director of the Memphis Area Transit Authority.
We welcome you both. Representative Ford?
TESTIMONY OF HON. HAROLD E. FORD, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM TENNESSEE, ACCOMPANIED BY WILLIAM HUDSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MEMPHIS AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY
Mr. FORD. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and other members of the committee. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to express my strong support for authorization of the medical central rail extension project and to introduce one of my constituents who is head of the MATA, which is the transportation system in Memphis, Mr. William Hudson, who is the head of the Transit Authority.
The consistent support of your committee has enabled us, with the Memphis Area Transit Authority, Mr. Chairman, to implement a comprehensive public transit plan that enhances the role of rail and bus transportation in my Congressional District.
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Since completing the Main Street Trolley in 1993 as the first step of its downtown rail and transit system, MATA has moved quickly to realize the goal of the regional rail plan in my hometown. Passage of the national highway system legislation in 1994 and 1995 authorized new start initiatives of the Riverfront loop in the regional rail plan projects.
Mr. Chairman, these authorizations were necessary to keep the momentum behind the regional rail effort, which could not be delayed until the current reauthorization of ISTEA, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.
Similarly, Mr. Chairman, the authorization of the medical center extension in ISTEA is essential to the viability of the regional rail plan for the Memphis community. Without authorization for the medical center extension, MATA, which is our public transportation system, will be unable to complete the final link in the realization of a regional rail plan, just as the northern and southern points are about to open in the fall of 1997 in the city of Memphis.
Mr. Chairman, the city of Memphis is within reach of the ultimate goal of the regional rail plan, which was once considered to be impossible by many residents and local officials in the Memphis and the Tennessee area.
The medical center extension will link the two largest employment centers in the city--downtown Memphis to the Midtown Medical Center--and serve as a connector to the eastern suburbs and which will surround the whole metropolitan area of Memphis.
When completed, the medical center extension will provide needed transportation for residents and employees of the central business district, as well as the medical center.
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In addition, Mr. Chairman, the project will spur vital economic development in the area between downtown and the medical center.
Mr. Chairman, as I close, public transportation is often the only practical alternative to automobiles for many working people in my District, and I'm sure that's true throughout the Nation. Authorization of this project will ensure that they receive efficient and reliable transportation, as well as provide desperately-needed commercial development to the downtown area.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your attention, because we do, under the census track information, have pockets of poverty that reach somewhere in the 40 and 50 percent of unemployment rates.
The link of this rail system, which we have now put on the front burner in Tennessee--and, thanks to you and others here in this Congress--with light rail and with the trolleys in the downtown area has made it possible for us to move along.
I'd like to introduce the head of the Memphis Area Transit Authority, Mr. Will Hudson, who is certainly the one who's in the forefront for the city and for the mayor of the city of Memphis.
Mr. PETRI. Mr. Hudson.
Mr. HUDSON. Thank you very much, Congressman Ford, and good afternoon, Chairman Petri.
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My name, again, is William Hudson, president and general manager of the Memphis Area Transit Authority.
We are very thankful for the support that MATA has received from this Body in the past and appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today about authorization of the medical center rail extension project.
The Federal authorization and appropriation process is very important as a means to support smaller transit improvement projects that evolved during the long time span of ISTEA.
The medical center rail extension is an example of a project that recently evolved as a result of success of the Main Street trolley and other complementary transit projects in downtown Memphis. MATA has implemented a program of capital improvement incrementally, building on previous success and staying within available budgets.
We are concerned that a major interruption in MATA's plan due to a lack of project authorization would be detrimental to the momentum that has been created and would jeopardize political and popular support for continued implementation of fixed guide-wire projects.
With Federal assistance, four important transit projects are fully funded and a fifth is partially funded. Central Station, north end terminal, and the riverfront loop will begin construction this year. The regional rail plan will be completed by July.
In addition to these fully-funded projects, last year this committee authorized the medical center rail extension in H.R. 2274, and the Appropriation Committee provided $1.25 million of initial funding for this project.
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The city of Memphis has made a strong commitment that downtown is the heart of the city and to the rail as a major mode of transportation for the future. An example of this commitment is the Main Street trolley, which was built without any section 3 funds and was with 14 percent over-match.
In less than 3 years, the rail line has carried over 1.5 million riders. It averaged twice as many riders per mile as our bus system.
Engineering is underway on the first extension of the Main Street trolley, known as a ''riverfront loop.'' The project is fully funded, again with no section 3 funds and with over-match.
Only one link remained to complete the downtown rail system. That link is the connection to the medical center. The 2.5 mile medical center rail extension will connect the two largest employment centers in the Memphis area, totaling 80,000 workers.
The medical center is a major complex including several large hospitals, a medical center, a community college, and various related businesses.
This line will connect with the Main Street trolley and riverfront loop in the central business district, and will connect with several bus routes in the medical center.
The project offers an opportunity to satisfy an existing need for transportation and reinforce the mix of residential, commercial, and office land use, and create new economic development opportunities.
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With the funds earmarked last year, we will begin engineering on this project. We have made a request to the Transportation Appropriation Subcommittee for $6.4 million in fiscal year 1997 to allow us to fund the cost of other pre-construction activities such as right-of-way acquisition, track procurement, and utility relocation.
Memphis is a growing area with high hopes for the future. The downtown rail circulation system will provide the backbone for future rail projects serving the regional transit needs. Our plan will not only provide needed transportation improvement, but also offer access to jobs and economic development opportunities in a community that presently suffers from a high rate of poverty.
In summary, we are expanding rail service one segment at a time, building on the success of the Main Street trolley and laying the foundation for a regional rail system.
MATA requests that the committee continue its support with a further authorization request of $6.4 million in fiscal year 1997 and provide authorization for the $17.3 million balance of the proposed Federal share in Federal year 1998 and 1999.
Thank you. Again, I thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
When do you expect to have the link completed to the medical center?
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUDSON. We hope in 1999.
Mr. PETRI. So it's just 3 short years away.
Mr. HUDSON. That's right.
Mr. PETRI. Good. We look forward to working--
Mr. FORD. Mr. Chairman, I might add that the trolley in the downtown area certainly has been a real boost economically and certainly will support our tax base in the city. Now linking that to the medical center, which you all have already appropriated the funds for the feasibility and impact studies to be conducted--when we complete all of that, if we stay right on target in the appropriations, we will link the two largest employers together, which is the medical center and the downtown area.
The public transportation needs--it is so great in both the downtown bus loop, in the central heart of town, as well as the cross-town, which we refer to it in the city, but it's really the medical center.
I think the members of this committee and the Congress will be proud of a public transportation--beginning of a public transportation system by rail in our city.
Mr. PETRI. How long will that link be and how many stops will you have on it?
Mr. HUDSON. It will be 2.5 miles from downtown to the medical center at this point in time, and I don't have the number of stops at this point in time.
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Mr. FORD. But the number of people is just a large number--the largest number of public transportation users to date, and it will probably be able to do away with some automobiles simply because the medical center and downtown, people have to travel basically with the public buses from the medical center to downtown--I mean the loop, the eating places, the things that you have to do. I just think it will--I mean, we don't have a rail system that we're going to connect 15 miles out yet, but this is the first unveiling of what will take place in this city.
I really appreciate the Congress. It's been small, incremental amounts; however, it's done a great job for us in the city.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you both for coming here and discussing this project with us today.
Mr. FORD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUDSON. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Ford follows:]
Mr. PETRI. The Honorable Gordon J. Linton, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, accompanied by Mr. Jack Basso, deputy assistant secretary for budget and program, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation.
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I think I see Grace Cronican, who may be here on some future occasion. We'd like to welcome you, as well.
TESTIMONY OF GORDON J. LINTON, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION, ACCOMPANIED BY JACK BASSO, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR BUDGET AND PROGRAMS, OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Mr. LINTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I have submitted a more thorough statement to the committee, but I'd like to go through a more abbreviated one, if I may.
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am pleased to have the opportunity to appear before you today to talk about our funding proposals for fiscal year 1997 as we move into the final year of ISTEA authority for the transit program.
You have asked me to talk about our fiscal year 1997 request for transit projects that are not specifically earmarked in ISTEA, as well as any budget requests that may require additional legislation.
Mr. Chairman, it's important to note that before ISTEA only one project, Los Angeles, was specifically earmarked in our authorizing legislation. All other projects that we funded were not authorized in the law on a project-by-project basis.
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Then, as now, transit projects were selected by the Secretary based on certain established criteria in the law.
ISTEA represented a dramatic departure from prior transit legislation. While the total amount authorized for the new starts program was $5 billion over the life of ISTEA, Congress designed in the law project-specific earmarks totaling over $6 billion in ISTEA. This is over $1 billion more in projects than ISTEA authorized.
Even though these earmarks are in the law, each of the projects must meet statutory criteria for project approval.
Also, Mr. Chairman, it's important to note that, since fiscal year 1992, the Department of Transportation Appropriations Act had provided funding for 14 projects that did not have project-specific earmarks in ISTEA. In this situation, the FTA has looked to the project-specific earmarks in ISTEA for guidance.
Major transportation investments, whether for highway or for transit, begin with local decision-making through the MPO process. FTA and the Federal Highway Administration have had joint planning rules dating back to the mid-1970s, and these rules were revised after ISTEA in October of 1993.
When Federal funds are likely to be part of a major transportation investment, the local planning process must include a major investment study or MIS designed to evaluate alternative investments or strategies in meeting local, State, and national goals and objectives.
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The MIS concludes with the selection by the MPO as part of the planning process of one or more preferred projects and a funding strategy. The MIS now substitutes as the required alternative analysis.
ISTEA gives specific guidance on the criteria that we at FTA use in deciding on where discretionary funds are used for new start projects. These criteria include the completion of the MIS, a comprehensive review of the project's mobility improvements, environmental impacts, cost-effectiveness, operating efficiencies, and a degree of local financial commitment.
Land use policies and such factors as congestion relief, air pollution, noise pollution, energy consumption, and the promotion of economic development are also used to evaluate proposed projects.
FTA submits annually to Congress what's now called section 5309, new start funding levels and allocation report. This was formerly known as the 3-J report. This report evaluates the new start projects in the pipeline. This report is usually submitted in conjunction with the Department's budget request and has the Secretary's funding allocations based on the new starts request.
Our 1997 new starts report is nearly completed, Mr. Chairman, and we look forward to forwarding that to the committee within the next few weeks.
FTA's fiscal year 1997 budget submission includes $800 million for new starts. Of this amount, $794 million will cover the funding needs for 11 projects currently under full-funded grant agreements, along with the San Jose Tasmer project, which is under a letter of intent. These 11 projects include five proposed for full-funded grant agreements: the San Francisco area BART airport extension, the New Jersey corridor Hudsen/Bergen light rail transit system, the Sacramento LRT extension, the Denver/southwest corridor LRT, and the St. Louis/St. Clair Metro-link LRT extension.
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Let me tell you a little bit about the funding decisions for fiscal year 1997 and beyond. Those projects are already under full-funded grant agreement.
We looked first at the status of the project and its readiness for final design and/or construction and the grantee's ability to obligate funds in fiscal year 1997.
All of these five projects are expected to complete preliminary engineering and to become ready for final design and/or construction during calendar year 1996.
Two of the five projects approaching readiness for full-funded grant agreements, the Denver/southwest corridor and the St. Louis/St. Clair extension, are not specifically authorized in ISTEA.
For fiscal year 1997, FTA is requesting $8 million for the Denver project and $20 million for the St. Clair extension. In addition, we just entered into a full-funded grant agreement on March 13th for the San Juan Tren Urbano project, which also is not expressly authorized in ISTEA. We are requesting $10 million for Tren Urbano in fiscal year 1997.
So the total we are asking for of $38 million that has not been authorized is less than 5 percent of the new start requests for fiscal year 1997.
The Administration's goal is to maximize the use of trust fund or user fee resources. We applied this general principal to our fiscal year 1997 budget proposal. Once we determined the total funding level for the formula grant program, we used the entire trust fund authority available in ISTEA to form the grant program. That is $1.92 billion in fiscal year 1997 authority plus $11 million in carry-over authority. We are requesting $221 million in general funds to reach the $2.152 billion program level for fiscal year 1997.
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Maximizing available trust fund resources is consistent with Congress' design in ISTEA. For example, section 1006 of the national highway system provision in ISTEA allows trust funds to be used for start-up costs, including operation of traffic management and control.
The National Highway System Designation Act of 1995, developed by this committee late last year, expanded eligible activities for payment out of the trust fund by broadening the definition of preventive maintenance on the Federal aid highway system to include such work as cracked ceiling and painting. This is work that, under normal accounting circumstances, is considered operating.
Both republican and democratic administrations have submitted budget proposals during ISTEA with requests for operating assistance in excess of general fund appropriations. This occurred in fiscal year 1992, 1994, and 1996, and now in 1997.
In fiscal year 1993, 1 year when the Administration did not seek operating assistance that exceeded general funds, Congress, itself, passed an appropriations law providing for $802 million in operating assistance and only $651 million in general funds for our formula grants program.
Mr. Chairman, our fiscal year 1997 budget proposal includes a change in the statutorily specified 40/40/20 split in section 5309, formerly known as section 3. The statute provides that 40 percent be allocated for fixed guideway modernization, 40 percent for fixed guideway new construction or new starts, and 20 percent for bus and bus-related facilities.
Page 130 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In fiscal year 1997, we are requesting a total of $1.799 billion for discretionary capital grants allocated as follows: $725 million or 40 percent for fixed guideway modernization, $800 million or 45 percent for new starts, and $274 million or 15 percent for bus and bus-related facilities.
This allocation is neither new nor unusual. Since ISTEA was enacted in fiscal year 1992, the 40/40/20 statutory split has been applied by the appropriators only twice--fiscal year 1992 and 1996. Even then, the split was altered. In fiscal year 1992 the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act provided increased funding for bus projects in Hawaii and Florida, thus again altering the 40/40/20 allocation.
Then, in fiscal year 1996, this current fiscal year, Congress added previously-earmarked fiscal year 1993 new start funds to the current new start budget authority, once again altering the 40/40/20 split.
We are proposing an alternate funding split because we believe that this is the appropriate use of Federal scarce resources.
Importantly, we are trying to bring better planning and management to the new starts case load. We believe that the $800 million in fiscal year 1997 provides an adequate level to meet the needs of the current projects under FFGAs or proposed for one.
We also believe that funding for the new starts category should be a reliable resource on which project managers can plan.
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The $720 million for fixed guideway modernization is the same level that Congress appropriated for fiscal year 1995. Combined with the 4-year funds, the $725 million should allow us to continue to reduce the approximately $13 billion backlog in this area.
Finally, the 5307 formula grants program is intended to cover routine bus needs, reserving the 5309 discretionary bus funding for extraordinary bus needs. The $274 million that we're requesting for discretionary bus in fiscal year 1997 will be sufficient for such extraordinary needs such as deployment of the advanced transportation technology bus, construction of large facilities, and major bus purchases.
We have found that the discretionary bus activity has tended to have a relatively large carry-over of funds due to premature earmarking. Rather than have those funds remain idle, we believe that they can best be put to use more quickly in the new starts and fixed guideway modernization program.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my remarks. I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have that also may be included in the full statement that has been submitted to the committee.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you.
Mr. PETRI. Mr. Basso?
Mr. BASSO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. I'm pleased to appear here before you today to discuss items in the Department's budget that may require authorizing legislation falling within the jurisdiction of this committee, which includes State infrastructure bank program funding and our proposal to increase the administrative take-down of the Federal aid highway program.
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Clearly, the following initiatives will require authorizing legislation.
The State infrastructure banks are an extension of the Department's ongoing innovative financing initiative. I might add, with the assistance and leadership of this committee, we were able to achieve legislation to put those pilots forward. Mr. Chairman, we're very grateful to the committee for that.
The purpose of that initiative is quite simple. It's designed to give the State and local governments more flexibility in how to use Federal aid highway funds that they may receive and to provide leverage to increase the total funding going to transportation infrastructure improvements.
The States have been enthusiastic about this initiative, which can advance projects more quickly and promote new infrastructure investments sooner.
The State infrastructure bank program is designed to provide an additional umbrella to test the next generation of alternative financing tools. Tools such as credit enhancement and revolving loan funds will foster greater private sector participation in the financing of transportation projects.
These tools will receive additional attention under the SIB pilot program.
Also, the SIB initiative provides an enhancement to the innovative financing opportunities being offered under FHWA's test and evaluation authority, since the States can actually tailor their SIBs to their needs and structure them to meet State-specific legal authority.
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In spite of the compressed time schedule for submitting applications, the Department received 15 applications for the pilot positions and supporting levels from more States. I can also report to you that a number of other States have expressed serious interest in establishing SIBs but simply could not get their applications in during the time allotted.
We have recently designated eight of the ten SIB pilots and will be designating an additional two in the near future.
We think the SIBs clearly advance infrastructure investment and the States will continue to be enthusiastic about opportunities offered by the SIBs to help meet their infrastructure needs.
As you know, the Department's fiscal year 1997 budget requests $250 million for SIBs and an expansion of the program to add up to possibly 10 additional States.
The fiscal year 1996 States selected to participate in the pilot currently will forego part of the regular Federal aid highway program funds to capitalize the bank.
This funding is needed since States make every effort to fully program Federal aid funds through their State planning processes and transportation improvement plans that are required by the ISTEA legislation. Proposed additional funding will help minimize any disruption to these commitments in order to fund this new program.
Several States have indicated, thus, that they are very excited about SIBs option and believe, without the proposed capitalization funds, the initiative will develop much more slowly and display less potential because of the limited funds available to capitalize banks.
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Our proposal to expand the SIB pilot to additional States beyond the ten pilot States also requires Congressional authorization.
We are preparing legislation to authorize additional designations and will work closely with the committee to evaluate the $250 million included in our request.
The budget also proposes a one-time increase of 1 percent to the so-called administrative take-down for the Federal Highway Administration. That funding is required so that we can enhance and continue an expanded research and technology program, particularly intelligent transportation systems.
I might add, Mr. Chairman, that one important feature that you should know is the administrative costs of the Federal Highway Administration have actually gone down, so this increase applies strictly to research and technology advancement, as offset by some reduced operating costs of the Agency.
Let me assure you, Mr. Chairman, that we want to work closely with you on those commitments.
One other matter that was brought to our attention was the question of the Alameda corridor program and its authorization. We'd submit to you, Mr. Chairman, that the current Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act does, in fact, provide authorization for that program.
Page 135 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd be happy to answer any questions you or members of the committee may have.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you. I think if Senator Mack and some others have their way, your administrative costs will decrease even further.
Mr. Rahall, would you--
Mr. RAHALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I'd like to take a personal moment here to acknowledge a member of the FTA who will soon be leaving us. I see that Grace Cronican, the deputy administrator of FTA, is with us accompanying Administrator Linton today. I'd like to thank her on my behalf, as well as other members of the committee, for all of her work in public transit. I understand that she has been appointed as Secretary of Transportation in the State of Oregon.
Although I congratulate her on this great opportunity and wish her well as she returns to her home in Oregon, I would like her to know she'll be sorely missed by myself and many of us on this committee for both her transportation expertise and her energy and her advocacy on behalf of public transportation.
In July 1993, President Clinton and Secretary Pená appointed Grace deputy administrator for FTA. Prior to coming to the Administration she served as director of the surface transportation policy project, deputy director of the city of Portland's transportation department, and as a Senate appropriations staffer.
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We long ago forgave Grace for her work for appropriations.
Mr. RAHALL. And in the other Body. We've since counted on her long experience in transit.
But, most of all, we will miss her energy with which she has laid out her vision of an efficient, affordable, and balanced transportation system.
Grace, we thank you and wish you well.
I want to begin my questions with you, Mr. Basso, if I might.
I am obliged to begin by questioning highway demonstration projects. The administration is proposing to set an obligation limitation on ISTEA highway demonstration projects, as well as on emergency relief and the minimum allocation. As you are aware, ISTEA specifically exempts these three categories from an obligation limit.
Would you not agree, then, that this Administration proposal constitutes a change in law; that, in fact, if this proposal was included in appropriation bill it would constitute legislation?
Mr. BASSO. Mr. Rahall, I would agree. It does, in fact, constitute a change from current law and would require, in the general provisions of the Appropriation Act, a specific provision to enclose such a limitation. These programs are currently exempt from any limitations. Yes, sir.
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Mr. RAHALL. Thank you.
Continuing: as you know, in the NHS bill we authorized a pilot program for State infrastructure banks; however, almost as soon as the ink was dried on the NHS bill the Administration proposed to dramatically expand the SIB pilot program by requesting $250 million in fiscal year 1997 budget for it.
First, would you not agree that this Administration request requires authorization? And, second, I'd like to know why you're seeking to expand this program even before the NHS pilot program gets underway.
Mr. BASSO. Mr. Rahall, first, the $250 million, in our judgment, would require authorization Congress has not currently authorized. Our experience in the response to the application process that we put forth for the State infrastructure banks exceeded the expectations that we had at the time. Ten pilots were designated. There are currently about 16 applications that were received. We received indications from at least five or six other States that, had there been sufficient time, they would have submitted applications.
With that response and with the current situation being what it is in infrastructure investment, an opportunity to leverage three or four dollars to one through State infrastructure banks, we felt that it was appropriate to come to the Congress and request additional authority to expand the number of designations based on its potential and on its ability to help move projects forward more quickly.
Page 138 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Linton, in past years the FTA budget was generally comprised of 60 percent trust fund monies and 40 percent general funds. For fiscal year 1997, however, the FTA is proposing that 87 percent of its program be financed by the trust fund.
I'm not especially concerned with that fact; however, I am concerned that the FTA may be proposing to use trust fund monies for unauthorized purposes.
I noted in my opening statement, for example, the proposed use of trust fund monies for operating assistance. Do you intend to request an authorization for this proposal?
Mr. LINTON. Mr. Chairman, let me just say that we look forward to working with the committee to make sure that the President's budget request can be accommodated, but let me also say that we have also looked at the recent history of the authorization and the trust fund, and particularly the reference which I made earlier in my remarks to the NHS bill where even some expanded definition in highways, which comes under the same provision of the trust fund budget, there has been use of highways for things such as painting, cracked ceilings--items which, in most accountant's terms, were considered to be operating costs.
But the Congress has recently, in several instances, used out of the trust fund operating money, as well. And we've also seen several occasions prior to this budget submission where some of our operating money, as well, has come out of the trust fund.
But we will work with you and other members of this committee to try to see if we can resolve any outstanding issues there may be to make sure that the President's budget can be enacted.
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Mr. RAHALL. Okay. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, if I might, with the permission of the subcommittee, I would like to ask one last question, and this is on behalf of our colleague, Representative Costello of Illinois.
This is to you, Administrator Linton: you mentioned in your statement that the St. Clair County extension of Metro-Link is a project that is unauthorized. Are you aware that this project was approved by the committee and the House during ISTEA but it was accidentally omitted from the final conference report?
Mr. LINTON. Yes, I am, Mr. Congressman. It has been brought to my attention I guess early in the Administration that this was considered by many to have been an oversight that occurred during the minutes of negotiations. Being a former legislator, I know how that occurs from time to time, so it's my understanding that that did, in fact, occur.
But we also know that the Congress, itself, through the appropriations process, has earmarked that project on several occasions that has enabled it to go forth through our funding criteria, but we recognize that that oversight may have occurred during ISTEA and therefore it would have been an authorized project.
Mr. RAHALL. Thank you, Mr. Administrator.
Page 140 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PETRI. Representative Horn?
Mr. HORN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome. I'm delighted to see you all here. Sorry I couldn't sit through all the testimony, but we had one of the last meetings of a task force on reform, and you don't miss those or all your ideas are on the floor.
So let me just note that in your testimony, as I understand it, you briefly mentioned the proposed loan program for the Alameda corridor in southern California.
Those of us that represent parts of that corridor, which my District does, representing Long Beach through Downey and over to San Pedro--and both the Port of L.A. and the Port of Long Beach are in my District--these are major national infrastructure institutions, if you will, when it comes to foreign trade and the commerce coming in and out of the United States.
I just wonder if you could explain the proposal for the committee, because it's going to be new to most people. I'd just sort of like to get it on the record.
And then, after you explain it, do you believe that it will require legislation to implement this proposal, or are the existing authorizations sufficient?
Mr. BASSO. Thank you, Congressman Horn.
Let me address that question to explain the project. The project is a rail corridor--the rail corridor extending from the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles out through the Alameda area of Los Angeles. The project will move massive tons of freight to the midwestern United States.
For those reasons, it's considered a project of national significance and has significant economic benefits to the Nation, as a whole, and for international trade. It has implications in that regard.
Page 141 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC With regard to our position on the funding, we hold that, in fact, section 1105-I of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act authorizes a revolving loan program--and I'll explain a little bit about that--for projects designated as high-priority corridors in the act. The Alameda corridor was, in fact, designated as such a high-priority corridor in the National Highway System Designation Act and, consequently, the Administration, recognizing the national significance of the project, has sought to set up a loan under that authority--a loan to be fully repaid from the proceeds and receipts from rail activity in the corridor.
The last item I would add to that is that loan is really a bridge loan in the early years of the project. In fact, the total cost of the project right now is estimated to be almost $2 billion. The Federal loan, which will be fully repaid, while critical to the early stages of bridging the project, is, in fact, a small proportion of the funding that's being contributed by State, local, and private initiatives.
Mr. HORN. As you know, that corridor has had the support--strong support--of the leadership of this committee when Mr. Rahall was chairman in the 103rd and Mr. Petri was the ranking Member. We have had that support at the full committee level, the House leadership level. It is a bipartisan project that does involve several dozen Members of Congress in southern California of both parties.
I appreciate Secretary Pena's interest in this. He came out a couple of years ago and got things rolling on the highway system and the idea of an intermodal project.
I think this is a great example which might well be duplicated in other parts of the United States, and we appreciate all the support.
But I take it your answer is you don't feel you need any other authorization authority? You have existing authority for this?
Mr. BASSO. That's correct, sir.
Mr. HORN. Okay. I don't know how the Chair feels about that, because we haven't had a chance to really talk, but I just wanted to make sure the authorization is there. If it isn't, I'll be begging my colleagues.
Page 142 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
Mr. PETRI. Staff is reviewing that from our point of view, but we're not looking for more work to do; we're just trying to do--
Mr. HORN. Want to make it thorough.
Mr. PETRI. I have, I think, believe it or not, two or three pages of detailed questions, the answers to which are designed basically to help us do our job in relationship to some of your submissions, and, with your agreement, I'd like to submit those to you for written response as quickly as possible. We want to make sure that what we do is, to the extent we possibly can, parallel to what your thinking is on some of the things as we go forward.
We thank you very much for your testimony, and we'll be submitting those questions to you today and tomorrow and hopefully we'd like to get the responses.
[The information to be supplied follows:]
Mr. PETRI. The one thing I guess we're particularly interested in doing, if you could answer today, is: when can we expect to receive legislative language from you that would provide for implementing the changes that you are suggesting be made?
Mr. LINTON. Well, let me just say, Mr. Chairman, our staffs--we will work with you on pursuing what legislative changes may be needed to accommodate the President's budget. Some of them may require us working with other committees, as well. We look forward to working with you as quickly as possible to try to do that.
If I can just add one last comment, I'd like to thank Congressman Rahall for acknowledging and bringing to all of us the great work of my deputy, who I'm going to surely miss. She has been a major figure on the national scene and will be going back to do great work in the State of Oregon. But, knowing her, even though she's going back to Oregon, she will always be a national figure and we always will be able to pull on her talents to assist the Nation.
Page 143 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'd like to thank you for acknowledging her presence, and also recognizing the fine contributions that she has made to the Nation.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Could you--in a former life I used to be involved in getting people to try to set deadlines. Even if you don't stick to them, at least it gives us something to shoot at and, believe it or not, it would probably be good for your office as well as ours to spell out things you can do tomorrow or you can do next week or next month. So could you give us some kind of a deadline as to when you would like folks in your shop to submit any legislative language to our committee that would be necessary to implement the budget proposals that are coming forward?
Mr. BASSO. We'd be happy to, Mr. Chairman. We will endeavor to submit to you by the end of next week legislation, or at least most of it. Some of it is very uncomplicated. One or two pieces are a little more complicated. We'll make every effort to get the vast majority, if not everything, to you.
Mr. PETRI. May 4th? Is that it?
Mr. BASSO. Yes, sir.
Mr. PETRI. Okay. Good. By 5:00.
Mr. PETRI. All right. Thank you very much.
Mr. LINTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BASSO. Thank you.
[Whereupon, at 2:10 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.]
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FISCAL YEAR 1997 UNAUTHORIZED TRANSIT PROJECTS
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Page 145 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS
APRIL 25, 1996
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTUCTURE
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania, Chairman
DON YOUNG, Alaska
WILLIAM F. CLINGER, Jr., Pennsylvania
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HERBERT H. BATEMAN, Virginia
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
SUSAN MOLINARI, New York
WILLIAM H. ZELIFF, Jr., New Hampshire
Page 146 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTHOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
Y. TIM HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
BILL BAKER, California
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
PETER I. BLUTE, Massachusetts
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
JACK QUINN, New York
TILLIE K. FOWLER, Florida
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER T. BACHUS, Alabama
JERRY WELLER, Illinois
ZACH WAMP, Tennessee
TOM LATHAM, Iowa
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
ANDREA SEASTRAND, California
RANDY TATE, Washington
SUE KELLY, New York
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
BILL MARTINI, New Jersey
DAN FRISA, New York
TODD TIAHRT, Kansas
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
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JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
PETE GEREN, Texas
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
BUD CRAMER, Alabama
BARBARA-ROSE COLLINS, Michigan
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
PAT DANNER, Missouri
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
BILL K. BREWSTER, Oklahoma
KAREN McCARTHY, Missouri
Page 148 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCFRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
THOMAS C. SAWYER, Ohio
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin, Chairman
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
WILLIAM F. CLINGER, Jr., Pennsylvania
HERBERT H. BATEMAN, Virginia
BILL EMERSON, Missouri
WILLIAM H. ZELIFF, Jr., New Hampshire
Y. TIM HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
BILL BAKER, California
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
PETER BLUTE, Massachusetts
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
JACK QUINN, New York
TILLIE K. FOWLER, Florida
JERRY WELLER, Illinois
TOM LATHAM, Iowa
Page 149 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
RANDY TATE, Washington
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, New Jersey
DAN FRISA, New York
TODD TIAHRT, Kansas
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
GREG LAUGHLIN, Texas
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
ROBERT E. (BUD) CRAMER, Jr., Alabama
PAT DANNER, Missouri
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
WALTER R. TUCKER III, California
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
BILL K. BREWSTER, Oklahoma
MIKE PARKER, Mississippi
BARBARA-ROSE COLLINS, Michigan
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
NATHAN DEAL, Georgia
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
KAREN McCARTHY, Missouri
Page 150 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCFRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
THOMAS C. SAWYER, Ohio
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
Brown, Hon. Corrine, a Representative in Congress from Florida, accompanied by Paul Skoutelas, Executive Director, Central Florida Transportation Authority, District Five Secretary
Bunning, Hon. Jim, a Representative in Congress from Kentucky, accompanied by Hon. Roxanne Qualls, Mayor, Cincinnati, Marvin Thompson, City Manager, City of Blue Ash
Coyne, Hon. William J., a Representative in Congress from Pennsylvania
Costello, Hon. Jerry F., a Representative in Congress from Illinois
Deutsch, Hon. Peter, a Representative in Congress from Florida
Dornan, Hon. Bob, a Representative in Congress from California
Page 151 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ehrhardt, Paul, Chairman, Greater Hartford Transit District
Ford, Hon. Harold E., a Representative in Congress from Tennessee, accompanied by William Hudson, Executive Director, Memphis Area Transit Authority
Frost, Hon. Martin, a Representative in Congress from Texas, accompanied by Billy J. Ratcliff, Chairman, Board of Directors, DART
Furse, Hon. Elizabeth, a Representative in Congress from Oregon, accompanied by Tom Walsh, General Manager, Tri-County Metropolitan Transit Director
Geren, Hon. Pete, a Representative in Congress from Texas
Gibbons, Hon. Sam, a Representative in Congress from Florida
Houston, Nancy M., Florida Department of Transportation
Jefferson, Hon. William J., a Representative in Congress from Louisiana, accompanied by John Potts, General Manager, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, and Patrick Judge, Manager, Transit Development and President, Louisiana Transit Association
Johnson, Hon. Eddie Bernice, a Representative in Congress from Texas
Johnston, Hon. Harry, a Representative in Congress from Florida
Linton, Gordon J., Administrator, Federal Transit Administration, accompanied by Jack Basso, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
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Lucas, Hon. Frank D., a Representative in Congress from Oklahoma, accompanied by Randy Hume, Administrator, Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority
McCollum, Hon. Bill, a Representative in Congress from Florida
McKinney, Hon. Cynthia, a Representative in Congress from Georgia
Mascara, Hon. Frank, a Representative in Congress from Pennsylvania, accompanied by Bill Millar, Executive Director, Port Authority of Allegheny County
Meek, Hon. Carrie, a Representative in Congress from Florida
Mica, Hon. John L., a Representative in Congress from Florida
Middleton, Hon. Clyde, Judge Executive, Kenton County, Kentucky, and Robert Horine, Assistant City Manager, Covington, Kentucky
Portman, Hon. Rob, a Representative in Congress from Ohio
Romero-Barcelo, Hon. Carlos A., a Representative in Congress from Puerto Rico, accompanied by Dr. Carlos I. Pesquera, Secretary, Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works
Ros-Lehtinen, Hon. Ileana, a Representative in Congress from Florida
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Schaefer, Hon. Dan, a Representative in Congress from Colorado, accompanied by Clarence (Cal) Marsella, Executive Director and General Manager, Denver Regional Transit District
Shaw, Hon. E. Clay, Jr., a Representative in Congress from Florida, accompanied by Ed Colby, Director, Metro Dade Transit Agency, and Allen C. Harper, Chairman of the Board, Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority
Stansberry, Harold, Chairman, Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority
Stuart, Jacob V., President, Greater Orlando Chamber of Commerce
Turanchik, Ed, Hillsborough County Commissioner
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Brewster, Hon. Bill K., of Oklahoma
Brown, Hon. Corrine, of Florida
Bunning, Hon. Jim, of Kentucky
Costello, Hon. Jerry F., of Illinois
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Coyne, Hon. William J., of Pennsylvania
Deutsch, Hon. Peter, of Florida
Diaz-Balart, Hon. Lincoln, of Florida
Dornan, Hon. Bob, of California
Ford, Hon. Harold E., of Tennessee
Franks, Hon. Bob, of New Jersey
Frost, Hon. Martin, of Texas
Furse, Hon. Elizabeth, of Oregon
Geren, Hon. Pete, of Texas
Hayes, Hon. James A., of Louisiana
Jefferson, Hon. William J., of Louisiana
Johnson, Hon. Eddie Bernice, of Texas
Page 155 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Johnson, Hon. Nancy L., of Connecticut
Johnston, Hon. Harry, of Florida
Kennelly, Hon. Barbara B., of Connecticut
Lucas, Hon. Frank D., of Oklahoma
McKinney, Hon. Cynthia, of Georgia
Mascara, Hon. Frank, of Pennsylvania
Meek, Hon. Carrie, of Florida
Portman, Hon. Rob, of Ohio
Schaefer, Hon. Dan, of Colorado
Shaw, Hon. E. Clay, Jr., of Florida
Shuster, Hon. Bud, of Pennsylvania
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
Basso, Peter J.
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Harper, Allen C.
Houston, Nancy M.
Linton, Gordon J.
Marsella, Clarence W.
Millar, William W
Pesquera, Dr. Carlos I
Potts, John F.
Ratcliff, Billy J.
Page 157 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Skoutelas, Paul P.
SUBMISSION FOR THE RECORD
Linton, Gordon J., Administrator, Federal Transit Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, responses to post hearing questions
ADDITION TO THE RECORD
Hood, Glenda E., Mayor, City of Orlando, letter, April 19, 1996
Kraus, Ellen, Chairman, Fleet Bank, letter, April 26, 1996
Orange County Transportation Authority Transitway Justification for FY 1997 DOT Appropriations/Section 3 New Start Authorization
Page 158 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Pombo, Hon. Richard W., a Representative in Congress from California