SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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CONGESTION IN THE U.S. TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
APRIL 4, 2001
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Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin, Vice-Chair
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
STEPHEN HORN, California
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
JACK QUINN, New York
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
SUE W. KELLY, New York
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
ROBERT W. NEY, Ohio
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCFRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
MICHAEL K. SIMPSON, Idaho
JOHNNY ISAKSON, Georgia
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
ROB SIMMONS, Connecticut
MIKE ROGERS, Michigan
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia
MARK STEVEN KIRK, Illinois
HENRY E, BROWN, Jr., South Carolina
TIMOTHY V. JOHNSON, Illinois
BRIAN D. KERNS, Indiana
DENNIS R. REHBERG, Montana
TODD RUSSELL PLATTS, Pennsylvania
MIKE FERGUSON, New Jersey
SAM GRAVES, Missouri
C.L. (BUTCH) OTTER, Idaho
MARK R. KENNEDY, Minnesota
JOHN ABNEY CULBERSON, Texas
BILL SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
MAX SANDLIN, Texas
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
BILL PASCRELL, Jr., New Jersey
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
JAMES P. McGOVERN, Massachusetts
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCNICK LAMPSON, Texas
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
BRIAN BAIRD, Washington
SHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada
BRAD CARSON, Oklahoma
JIM MATHESON, Utah
MICHAEL M. HONDA, California
RICK LARSEN, Washington
Mineta, Hon. Norman Y., Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Berkley, Hon. Shelley, of Nevada
Costello, Hon. Jerry F., of Illinois
Ferguson, Hon. Mike, of New Jersey
Johnson, Hon. Eddie Bernice, of Texas
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Kennedy, Mark, of Minnesota
Mascara, Hon. Frank, of Pennsylvania
Rahall, Hon. Nick J., II, of West Virginia
Tauscher, Hon. Ellen O., of California
PREPARED STATEMENT SUBMITTED BY THE WITNESS
Mineta, Hon. Norman Y.
SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
Mineta, Hon. Norman Y., responses to questions from Members of Congress:
Baker, Hon. Richard, of Louisiana
Baldacci, Hon. John E., of Maine
Johnson, Hon. Eddie Bernice, of Texas
Kennedy, Mark, of Minnesota
Mascara, Hon. Frank, of Pennsylvania
Oberstar, Hon. James L., of Minnesota
Tauscher, Hon. Ellen O., of California
Taylor, Hon. Gene, of Mississippi
CONGESTION IN THE UNITED STATES TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
Wednesday, April 4, 2001
House of Representatives, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Washington, D.C.
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The Committee met, pursuant to call, at 11:00 a.m. in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Don Young [chairman of the committee] presiding.
Mr. YOUNG. The Committee will come to order.
For the member's information, I will try, and I hope you will give me the courtesy of trying, to start our meetings on time. I think it is crucially important because time is short. We are going to have a series of votes at approximately 11:30, at which time we will declare a temporary recess, and then return for questions to the witness today. Because of time restraints, the gentleman from Minnesota, the Ranking Member, Mr. Oberstar and I will be the only ones who will have an opening statement. Every member is allowed to submit a statement. If you are not here to ask questions, you can submit questions to the Secretary.
This morning we are holding the first full Committee hearing of the 107th Congress to examine the terrible congestion that grips our transportation system. But even more important, we are here to welcome the new Secretary of Transportation, our former colleague and good friend, Norm Mineta. I would also like at this time to recognize John Paul Hammerschmidt, he is right behind us here. He used to be a member of this Committee. Let's give him a hand.
Mr. YOUNG. John Paul and Norm served together on this Committee and they are very close friends.
Those of us who serve on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee know there is no such thing as a Democrat or a Republic highway, subway system, airport, or port. Transportation is a bipartisan issue, and I am proud that the Transportation Committee is the most bipartisan committee in Congress. Secretary Mineta represents the best of that bipartisan spirit. He is a Democrat, a former Democrat Chairman of this very Committee, and as I mention to Norm before he starts his testimony, someone is looking over his shoulder and he is right up there on the wall.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
Mr. YOUNG. He is now representing the Republican Bush Administration. The Committee extends a very warm welcome to you, Norm, and good to have you back in this room.
Congestion, in my mind, the national crisis. Anyone who drives, flies, or takes the train, and every business that ships freights over the highways, railroads, airways, or through our ports knows that our transportation system is overburdened and we have reached national gridlock.
Simply put, the only way to relieve congestion is to increase capacity. That may mean building more highways, transit systems, runways and airport terminals, or making it possible for our existing highways, railways, or airports to be more efficient. I think we need to do both. And the Federal Government must lead that effort.
Over the past three years, the Federal investment in transportation has increased tremendously. This Committee has been the leader in that effort. Our landmark TEA-21 and AIR-21 bills have reformed the highway and airways trust funds to ensure that every tax dollar paid by Americans is dedicated to transportation improvements. The members of our Committee are tireless advocates for full funding of TEA-21 and AIR-21. Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you for your efforts to ensure that this Administration's first budget fully funds the TEA-21 and AIR-21.
TEA-21 and AIR-21 have not finished the job. I think we face a real crisis preserving and upgrading our rail infrastructure system. I want to pursue legislation to improve short-line railroads and also to look at ways to improve high speed passenger rail service and even Class I rail service.
Our port and waterways infrastructure is also a critical need for upgrading. I want to encourage the Secretary to place greater emphasis on our ports, harbors, and waterways. It is in the public interest to ensure that we fully use and maintain every mode when transporting the Nation's cargo. If American ports are to remain competitive, if we uphold the right balance between rail, highways, and air cargo, we have to work to improve our water borne transportation as well.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am proud of the Federal investment in transportation. I am worried that is only part of the problem. It has been a full three years since the passage of TEA-21, but we are not seeing enough improvement. It is clear we must work to streamline that process of constructing transportation projects whether they are highways, airports, railroads, and transit systems, or port improvements. And I want to stress thatwe must streamline the system. It takes too much time to build critical infrastructure. And this is simply unacceptable to myself, and I hope to this Committee.
Mr. Secretary, in TEA-21 we directed the last Administration to streamline the process of improving highway and transit projects, but the problem has just gotten worse. We want to find out why, and we want to solve and have solutions for that problem.
The problems in improving airports in many ways are even more difficult to solve. I hope to hear your views today on ways to streamline this process for all modes, and look for ways that the Congress and the Administration may work together to make this process better. I want to reform the project approval process so that all the reviews and studies can be done at the same time. This will speed the process while maintaining the important protections that our laws provide.
I have outlined many long-term ways of reducing congestion, but we also must look at short-term ways as well. Today, along with our Ranking Member, Mr. Oberstar, Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Mica, and Aviation Ranking Member Lipinski, we will introduce a bill to permit air carriers to meet and discuss their schedules in order to reduce flight delays. This bill will not solve all our problems, but it will help. It will provide a means to reduce some congestion as we approach the summer travel season.
The only real long-term solution of relieving aviation congestion is more runways and better navigational aids. We need to start by identifying those airports with the greatest amount of congestion where streamlining the permitting process will have the most effect. Then we need to establish an expedited process that protects the environment and ensures public input while getting new runways completed.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Before closing, I want to express my strong supportand, Mr. Secretary, I thank youfor the United States Coast Guard. Right now, the Coast Guard is conducting a search and rescue mission in Alaska in connection with the loss of the Arctic Rose's crew of 15 members. My thoughts and prayers go to the families of those fishermen. All too often, the men and women of the Coast Guard risk their own lives to save others. Just last month, two Coast Guard crew members were killed on duty near the Niagara River in New York. We should not only express our appreciation for their heroic efforts, but we need to demonstrate our appreciation by fully funding the Coast Guard needs for both personnel and assets.
I would like to say to the members of the Committee today, you will always have a chance to ask questions. And at this time I would like to recognize my good friend, Mr. Oberstar, the Ranking Member of the Committee, to make his opening statement.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I join you in your heartfelt expression about the United States Coast Guard. The men and women who wear that special color blue render an extraordinary, valuable, and everlasting service to this country.
I also congratulate you on initiating the work of the full Committee on this critical, pivotal issuecongestion. It is a great starting place for the work of the Committee in the 107th Congress. All of us are directly affected by congestion, by the time spent in traffic or waiting for a flight, or indirectly, through the loss of efficiency to our national economy.
The Texas Transportation Institute, in its biannual review of highway congestion in the 68 largest metropolitan areas, reports that congestion costs motorists 4.3 million hours of delay each year, 6 billion gallons of wasted fuel. That is one barrel of gasoline for every driver in America every year, and at an annual loss to the economy of $72 billion.
Last year, more than 1 in 4 of 5.6 million flights scheduled by major airlines was delayed, affecting 163 million passengers. The average flight arrived more than 52 minutes late.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is fair to say that the growth in congestion is, at least in part, due to our bustling, prosperous national economy and population growth, the largest in history, 33 million new Americans in the last decade, but also the growth in automobile ownership. We Americans own two-thirds of all the cars in the world and half of all its trucks. In 1955, there was one motor vehicle for every 2.6 persons; today there is one for every 1.3. We have doubled motor vehicle ownership in the last 50 years. And we have also doubled air travel in just the 20-plus years since deregulation.
Demand will always outpace estimates in transportation. As we look for solutions, we have got to keep in mind construction is an important part, but it is not the only answer. Alone, construction cannot solve all of our problems. The reality is it will come too slowly, given the adverse effects of highway or airport construction on urban areas and on the urban environment and our quality of life. There are a lot of measures that we need to consider. And as an introduction, I would offer three:
First, make better use of existing resources. I have encouraged the FAA, for example, to move ahead vigorously with redesign of the air space. Aircraft now move along fixed route systems developed in the 1930s by lighthouses on the land and later radio beacons. We need to totally redesign that airspace.
Secondly, we need to develop alternatives to the use of our most congested infrastructure. Transit in the most congested areas can make its contribution by removing some of the burden from overcrowded highways. Last week, Metro in Washington, D.C. celebrated its 25th anniversary, carrying 6 billion riders since it opened; 600,000 passengers a day on trains, and another half million a day by bus. Without Metro, Washington would be very different. And I must say I am a convert to that issue. I was not a supporter at the outset. We would have 270,000 more vehicles on the road today without Metro, driving 2.5 billion miles, consuming 12 million gallons of gasoline, and would need 30 more highway lanes to accommodate that congestion.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Transit all around the country is experiencing extraordinary growth, and I have had the opportunity to see a lot of it in my travels in the last two years. There are 29 projects now under construction with full funding grant agreements from Federal Transit Administration, 7 others are pending, 40 more are in preliminary engineering, 100 other cities are considering new starts, 169 projects in all, but not enough money. Through 2003, even with TEA-21, there is only $18 million available for any additional projects beyond these commitments. So, Mr. Secretary, I urge you to consider vigorous action in that arena.
High speed rail is another option and alternative. The DOT has done its high speed rail corridor study between Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Detroit. Ten million passengers a year on short-haul routes between those areas and O'Hare could be relieved, taking off about 15 percent of O'Hare's traffic, replacing short-haul flights with high speed rail and making available more space for better revenue-yielding long-haul flights.
Our freight rails need to be helped. I urge the Administration to support H.R. 1140, the bill that we have introduced, with the Chairman taking the lead, on the Railroad Retirement and Survivors Act. That will free up $400 million a year for the freight railroads to invest in track infrastructure improvements to speed goods along our rail network. We also need the Administration to move ahead, where the last Administration dropped the ball, and Congress dropped the ball, on the Rail Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Act, RRIF, as we called it in TEA-21. We authorized it; it has not been funded. There are 19 applicants for funding to upgrade track and rail to meet the higher standards that we need to move the Nation's good.
Third, we have to consider short-term measures to address the problems of congestion. One that I talked about considerably late last year and early this year, we have now introduced a bill, and the Chairman has taken the lead to give limited antitrust immunity to the airlines to meet with the FAA and reduce congestion at those peak flight hours.
TEA-21 and AIR-21 were designed to release money from the trust funds, and they have worked very well. We now have a guaranteed revenue stream. And for TEA-21, the investment has jumped from $22.5 billion in 1998, to $30.7 billion in the current fiscal year. That is a one-third increase. Transit grants have jumped 31 percent. Cities, States, and transit authorities are moving ahead; they are pouring concrete, they are buying rail cars, they are renovating bridges, they are building runways, moving ahead faster than ever before, 33 percent increase in disbursements from the Federal Highway Administration to the States. Bud Shuster, are you smiling yet? We have increased aviation funding from $4 billion to $6 billion a year. But it all adds up to not enough.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is a lot of discussion recently about a measure that is seen as pivotalenvironmental streamlining. That is a term that covers a wide range of proposals to speed up environmental reviews. Some would reduce the timeframe, put reasonable deadlines on environmental reviews, not wait for unrelated reviews. And I support that approach so long as it does not undercut protection of the environment or take away rights of people whose quality of life will be affected by new airports or new roads. I think each proposal of streamlining has to be evaluated on its own merits to be sure that it does not undercut environmental protections existing in law.
We also have to look at the arguments about delays. I asked the FAA to review runway construction projects that have been anecdotally reported to take 10 to 15 years. It turns out that the Federal environmental impact process takes only three to four years. That may be too long, but it clearly is not the major cause of 10 year delays. The longest delays were caused by the time needed for legal and political processes mandated not by Federal, but by State and local governments. The Federal Government is a partner, but it is not the lead, it is not the only entity, and it is not the driving force in local decisions.
Local responsibility means a project has to go forward with a local political consensus. We have seen that all throughout the country. In my own State of Minnesota, while the FAA was very strongly in support of extending runway to 12,500 feet to serve Hong Kong under the new bilateral, the cities of Bloomington and Richfield and South Minneapolis were not for it. It took a long time. It was not Federal delay, it was local concerns. So we have to give due and fair consideration to local concerns, local authorities. They have to be proactive. Their zoning officials have to be careful in protecting the approach and departure areas around new and existing runways.
So this is a good start. I just want to make one observation. If environmental streamlining means Federal agencies shoving a road, a bridge, or a runway down the throats of neighboring citizens, I am not for it. If it means due respect, careful consideration, bringing the separate reviews together in a single process, I can support it.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And with those thoughts, let us begin, Mr. Chairman. This is a good start for this Committee.
Mr. YOUNG. I thank the gentleman.
Norm, now it is your turn. You do not have to follow the five minute rule. Other people do not follow it either.
Mr. YOUNG. But take your time. And, again, when we start having the votes, we will go as far as we can into the vote and then we will have a temporary recess. But you are on, Mr. Secretary. I deeply appreciate your appearing here today.
STATEMENT OF HON. NORMAN Y. MINETA, SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Secretary MINETA. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Oberstar, and members of the Committee. It really is a pleasure to be before you and to have this opportunity to be with you again to deal with the challenges that all of us face in trying to deal with our Nation's transportation system. It gives me great solace also to have John Paul Hammerschmidt standing up there on the dais. There were many, many hours that we spent in this room together. Frankly, Mr. Chairman, the view from this side of the table is vastly different from that side. I would like to ask unanimous consent that my full statement be made a part of the record.
Mr. YOUNG. Without objection, so ordered.
Secretary MINETA. I believe some copies were delivered earlier yesterday or on Monday.
I would also like to thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Oberstar, for your statement about the Coast Guard. Unfortunately, I had to perform one of those duties that you do as the Secretary of Transportation, I am double-hatted, also as Secretary over the Coast Guard. And as a service Secretary, I attended the memorial service on Sunday on behalf of our two Coast Guardsmen who were lost from Niagara station. So we appreciate very much your thoughts and ask everyone to keep the families and members of the Coast Guard in their thoughts and prayers.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. YOUNG. Mr. Secretary, would you just suspend a moment. There is one rule that I insist upon in this Committee. If you have a cell phone and you are in this room, you better put it on buzz or leave the room. I just heard a cell phone. I am as bad as the President before he became President, and in my committee, the past committee, I do not know how many people were ejected from the room before they finally learned that lesson. I think it is impolite, I think it does a disservice to this Committee, and especially the witness at the table. So, just keep that in mind.
Go ahead, Mr. Secretary.
Secretary MINETA. Mr. Chairman, congestion in U.S. transportation is a challenge, simply because the vitality of the U.S. economy is so closely linked to an efficient transportation system. Transportation is key to generating and enabling economic growth, in determining the patterns of that growth, in determining the competitiveness of our businesses in the world economy, and in the quality of life for our citizens. Congestion and inefficiency in transportation conversely are, in effect, hidden taxes that burden every business and every individual, and we must find ways to lighten that load.
As a whole, the multimodal transportation system of this great Nation works well in performing and maintaining the strong economic performance that we have experienced in the United States. Congressional oversight in enacting TEA-21 and AIR-21, for which I congratulate all of you, puts in place levels of capital investment, as Mr. Oberstar reiterated, that are needed to relieve congestion across the board, and I commend you all for it.
The President's budget recognizes that and contains full funding of the guaranteed levels in surface transportation and the firewalls that are in air transportation. Highway, transit, aviation, and rail infrastructure investments total some $42.8 billion, 39 percent above the average annual investment over the prior 8 years. And like you, this Administration is committed to spending our transportation dollars wisely and eliminating waste and fraud.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now turning to today's topic. Our biggest challenge is to get everyone working together in partnership to solve problems of congestion and capacity. And as the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, I intend to work across party lines, to reach across sectoral divides, and to build consensus for solutions. And nowhere is the congestion challenge more evident than in air traffic control.
The number of passengers on U.S. airlines is expected to hit 1 billion by the year 2010, an increase of almost 50 percent over today. We face the stiff challenge of building capacity to match that demand, and to do it safely. The question is how do you do this all while you are trying to drive down the highway and change the spark plugs at the same time.
Now I want to discuss what we can do in the short term. Most notably, the FAA and the aviation community will use nationwide coordination and flexibility to minimize passenger delays. This collaborative decision-making plan represents a fundamental change in the way that the FAA does business by centralizing much of their air traffic management planning, coordination, and decision-making at the FAA system command center in Herndon, Virginia. And if I might, I would like to take this time to invite any and all members of the Committee to visit our command center in Herndon if you have not done so.
The key to this process is real-time collaboration with the airlines so that they can manage their operations in severe weather conditions. Nearly 70 percent of all air traffic control system delays are caused by weather. It takes surprisingly little to curtail the capacity of our system. And we cannot reduce congestion in any meaningful way without finding a better way to respond to these weather-related delays.
The FAA and the airlines together are developing an operational evolution to the National Air Space System Plan that spells out what is required over the next 10 years. It outlines needed changes in air traffic control technology, operational procedures, airline avionics, certificate requirements, and the budgets necessary to implement all of these changes.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Clearly, we need more runways and more airport capacity in the long-term. Today, construction takes as much as 10 years from initial planning to completion. Congress asked us to find ways where we can assist localities in expediting the process without compromising important environmental values, and we will finalize our report for submission to the Congress.
Other options that offer the potential to substantially ease congestion include: market-based approaches that would encourage air carriers to use limited capacity more efficiently, peak-period pricing that will attempt to spread the flights at the most congested airports across a broader band of hours, and I also place great hope in the capacity benchmarks that are now being developed for the 31 busiest airports in our country.
And then, as has already been noted, congestion is not only a problem in the air. Major action is underway at the Department to tackle surface transportation congestion. Technology offers particular promise. Federal research helps build stronger roads and bridges. With new technologies, and new longer lasting materials that are easier to apply, we can get in, get it done, and get out. High-occupancy vehicle lanes, incentives for ride sharing, and telecommuting are just a few of the choices we have to enhance highway capacity. In addition to maximizing our system capacity via improved operations, we must also improve capacity with new facilities when appropriate. As in aviation, the Department is taking steps to streamline the environmental process for highways and mass transit.
Transit clearly has a role to play in easing congestion. Commuter rail systems are experiencing record growth and new systems are being planned to improve access between urban areas and fast growing suburbs. At the same time, many States are turning to high speed rail service to ease congestion between cities. Our Federal Railway Administration and AMTRAK are working with the States that comprise the 10 designated high speed rail corridors.
We must also address port congestion in our marine transportation system, which carries about 90 percent of our international trade and a significant portion of domestic trade. As the Chairman earlier noted, this traffic is already creating severe congestion at our ports and the volume is expected to again double by the year 2020. We are reviewing available options to ensure that our maritime service can continue to provide American businesses with competitive access to global markets.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In closing, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Oberstar, and members of the Committee, I look forward to working with all of you to address our Nation's transportation challenges. There is a lot of work to be done, and I look forward to working with all of you to do that.
Mr. Chairman, that completes my prepared statement. I am open to your questions.
Mr. YOUNG. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I deeply appreciate that. I have a short series of questions. Number one, I want to thank you for your efforts on behalf of TEA-21 and AIR-21 and getting the Administration to fully support the funding of TEA-21. But time does fly when you are having fun. Are you inclined to say that we will have that same support next year, the full funding of TEA-21 and AIR-21 as it came out of this Congress?
Secretary MINETA. It is hard to predict what is in the crystal ball, Mr. Chairman. But given the commitment of this Administration to a strong economy, and recognizing that transportation is a very vital part of making sure that we have a strong economy, I am looking forward again to the portion of the budget dealing with the guaranteed funding of TEA-21 and the firewalls of AIR-21 to be protected as well in the next year's budget.
Mr. YOUNG. Along those lines, Mr. Secretary, our interest within this body, as you know, and you worked through this, is there are those that do not agree with what we have done. I hope we have the support of the Administration when we come to the reauthorization in 2003. Regardless of who is in charge at that time in Congress, you will still be in office and you will still be Secretary, God willing, and this is crucially important to this Committee and to the United States, as far as I am concerned, to try to make sure that we do not detract from infrastructure.
We got to this point because this Congress never paid attention to the needs as our population grew, as Mr. Oberstar said, and the demand became greater. We just never kept up with it. Since 30 years ago when I first came to Congress, from that time till now, there has been a 137 percent increase in vehicular miles and we only put 5 percent improvement into the infrastructure. And so I would like to raise this to a level in the Administration that understands to a greater degree the importance to the economy of this country. I was just reading one of those opening statements, we have spent about 6.6 billion gallons of fuel sitting still in these congested areas. So that is very important to me.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC You talk about streamlining, you have heard Mr. Oberstar, myself. You are supposed to report to the Committee I believe under AIR-21 a recommendation. When do you think that will be available?
Secretary MINETA. As I recall, the date for submission of that is in April, and we will be submitting it on a timely basis, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. YOUNG. The second thing, we made some bad mistakes when we ''BRACeted'' certain military bases and turned them over to communities without some requirement or covenant that the airports would be used; Homestead is an example. Has the Department of Transportation been in communication with the Department of Defense? Have you looked into that? Homestead is not going to be used now and it is an airport that is in a very congested area and it should be used. Are we taking any steps, or what can we do to make sure that type of airfield is available for future expansion?
Secretary MINETA. I have not looked at that specifically relating to Homestead. But, Mr. Chairman, I will do that as soon as I get back.
Mr. YOUNG. And any other airport. I think there ought to be a cooperation between the Defense Department and Department of Transportation as we might, not with my help, go through another round of ''BRACeting'', that if there is an airfield, and most of them do have airfields built, rail accessibility, highway accessibility, they ought to be set aside and not be part of the package when it is turned over to a municipality unless they agree to run it as an airport. We know it is there, it would relieve the congestion in the air field.
Lastly, you have heard myself and Mr. Oberstar talk about, with Mr. Lipinski and members that introduced a bill on the antitrust provision so airlines can meet and talk about rescheduling, that they can spread the scheduling over. I hope you do support that. Do you?
Secretary MINETA. Mr. Chairman, I have spoken in the past about the need for antitrust provisions. I would prefer to use the phrase ''antitrust protection'' for the airlines rather than ''antitrust immunity.'' But, in any event, it is the same thing, and, yes, I support that legislation.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. YOUNG. I thank you. And, again, I thank you for your support of the Coast Guard. This is crucial to this Committee and myself, particularly. I have talked to the Vice President and the President about the funding of the Coast Guard, and I am happy to say I think we did very well in this budget. The budgeteers, although they made some mistakes in other areas, I think they did quite well with the Coast Guard, and we hope to see that continue.
The gentleman from Minnesota.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to welcome Secretary Mineta. When it comes to the task of Secretary of Transportation, he is the best prepared of any in history, and I have known every Secretary of Transportation since the Department was created in 1967. I was on the staff that wrote the legislation creating the Department of Transportation. We do not have a trainee before us, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. YOUNG. I realize that.
Mr. OBERSTAR. And it is good to have John Paul Hammerschmidt sitting up here. Welcome to the Committee. It is good to see you back here.
You made a very good, comprehensive review in your statement, Mr. Secretary, about congestion and the issues involved. On the issue of environmental streamlining, I understand that a cabinet level task force on energy policy is reviewing means of bringing new energy sources on stream rapidly and is looking at environmental streamlining as a means of doing so. I wonder if there are some common themes emerging from that review that apply also to transportation and whether there are some issues that we need to be concerned about.
Secretary MINETA. I am a member of that task force, Mr. Oberstar. In developing this report, there are a number of themes in there. The biggest portion is still relating to production of energy. As everyone has been discussing, there is the issue of demand, and there is the issue of supply. And whether we talk about aviation, or whether we talk about education, regardless of what we talk about, it is that gap between the demand for services and our ability to deliver. Energy is the same thing. You look at California, or look at what is happening across the country, it is a question of supply.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And so the main thrust of what the task force is doing is trying to look at new supply efforts, regardless of what the source might be, whether it is going to have to be drilling in new places, or building pipelines to get something from one point to another point. As I recall, it was something like we are lacking 23,700 miles of gas transmission lines and 70,000 miles of gas distribution lines. Well, it is the same thing in electrical transmission.
One of the common themes that is being talked about is that of conservation. And the pitch I made at yesterday's task force meeting was that the congressional mandate that does not allow the Department of Transportation to deal with cafe standards ought to be lifted. For six years, we have not been able to do anything about cafe standards. And so, for a period of time we were able to come up and go from something like 20.1 miles per gallon average for the total fleet up to 24.7 miles per gallon average, but we have been frozen there now for six years by congressional mandate. And yesterday at the task force, everybody agreed we ought to ask Congress to lift that sanction against the Department of Transportation.
So, again, there are a number of themes that are under discussion in this task force. I have got to say, everyone talks about environmental streamlining, but no one wants to undercutand I repeat thatno one wants to undercut environmental laws.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. One quick question. While you Chaired this full Committee as well as the Aviation Subcommittee, you expressed, as all of us did, frustration with the Department of Transportation over rulemaking. The IG did a study at my request last year that showed it took the Department twice as long to issue a rule in 1999 as it did in 1993. That is going in the wrong direction. I spent quite some time with your predecessor, Mr. Slater, about changing that record, and he did initiate a speed-up effort on rulemaking, particularly on safety rulemaking. A lot of the rulemaking applies to this issue of congestion. Are you committed to carrying forward Secretary Slater's initiative and improving on it and moving it ahead?
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary MINETA. Yes, sir.
Mr. OBERSTAR. And there were to be tracking systems in place by May 1.
Secretary MINETA. The average is something like 3.8 years in terms of getting rules and regulations out. And I am very, very much committed to reducing that time period. And we are also on schedule in terms of that internal work of the Department to make sure that we are tracking rulemaking to make sure that we get them out on a timely basis.
Mr. YOUNG. I thank the gentleman. You will have another chance for a round.
The gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr. Petri, the Chairman of the Surface Subcommittee.
Mr. PETRI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to join in welcoming you back to your Committee, Mr. Chairman. First of all, to pick up on what Mr. Oberstar was saying, and that is, I am sure you know the frustration that exists in the transportation community because of the slow progress, putting it mildly, that we have made at getting in place a good concurrent environmental review process. There was a good faith compromise that was reached in the course of passing TEA-21. I think the legislative language is there, and yet we have not seen interagency agreements and so on that actually have led to an expedited review process with no relaxation of environmental standards so that needed projects could go forward.
In that connection, I have been travelling about and meeting with groups, requesting any examples after three or four years into this bill where this process has, in fact, worked. And they say, yes, Salt Lake City, because of the Olympics; and, yes, California, because of the earthquakes and the need to rebuild infrastructure, so they have gone through a good concurrent review process. So it can be done to fix broken infrastructure and to enable people to put their best face forward on the world stage for the Olympic games. Now can we do it to maintain jobs, improve safety, solve congestion problems? So I commend you for giving high level attention to this effort.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secondly, the last Congress passed legislation creating the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and increasing funding for motor carrier safety. It is a very important long-term effort and yet we have not seen anyone appointed to the position of Administrator. Are you going to be working on that?
Secretary MINETA. Absolutely. In fact, one of the basic problems is the whole issue of trying to get appointments, to find people and then get them cleared through the process. And, on top of that, the President is very committed to diversity. So he is watching every one of us as we submit names for clearance. There is a very, very fine candidate that we are about to submit to the President for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator and I am hoping to get clearance this week.
Mr. PETRI. Another question. As you know, in the past we have had what they have called a mid-course correction bill. There was no provision forcing a mid-course correction in TEA21, but there is a lot of concern among our colleagues in the Congress and others that we consider trying to move up the timetable for reauthorization so that we would be in a position, if the economy continued to weaken and so on, of having some transportation construction related jobs program as part of any response in that area. Has the Administration given any thought to this sort of contingency, or do you have any reaction to an effort of this sort?
Secretary MINETA. Well, let me speak to the mid-term correction bill first. It seems to me that what you all crafted in TEA-21 was really balanced. There were some elements of it that were a house of cards. And, frankly, I would rather not have a mid-term correction bill because I think then it would open up Pandora's box to some other things that I am not sure we would want to address at this time. So I would say stay with what we have right now, not have a mid-term corrections bill. And on speeding up the portion on reauthorization, that would be a different approach. I had not heard that one. I would have to think about that. It expires in 2003, everyone is already starting to think about reauthorization. I am not sure whether we pick up much by let's say shortening that to 2002 because of, again, what I would consider the balance that was reached in TEA-21.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. YOUNG. I thank the gentleman.
I would just like to follow up on one thing. I would be inclined possibly to look at a mid-course correction bill if I thought there was a desire on the part of the Administration to spend that extra $4.8 billion for other things. So my little hint to you, Mr. Secretary, is don't even think about it or there would be a mid-term correction bill.
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me join with you and our distinguished Ranking Member in welcoming our former colleague and the distinguished Secretary of Transportation Mr. Mineta to the Committee. When I heard of your appointment I thought that the President could not have come up with a better person to lead this department. I do not know of anyone in history who has your experience, and your knowledge, and your understanding of transportation issues. So I am delighted you are in that position, and I am delighted you are here today. I also want to commend you on an outstanding statement.
Mr. Secretary, as you know in your years of experience on this Committee, and the reason I enjoy it so much, is that this is the most bipartisan Committee on the Hill and in the Congress. We work well together, Democrats and Republicans, to try and advance the transportation network of this great country, with one possible exception. You may reach back into your years of service here and remember that on occasion we act like other Committees when it comes to the environment, and once in a while we fuss and carry on and have some real problems.
With that, Mr. Secretary, I was curious, in your statement, you talked about environmental streamlining, and I know the Chairman has talked about this and is looking forward with trying to do something with the environmental streamlining. How do we do that? And, again, I appreciate your statement and talking about no one wants to do anything harmful to the environment, but it seems to me this is going to take a lot of your skill to talk with all interested parties to try and come up with a reasonable solution to what could be a very difficult problem.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary MINETA. I think administratively there are a lot of things that we could be doing. When you have a State Impact Report requirement as well as Federal Impact Statement requirements, it seems to me that rather than having them going consecutively, we could have them going concurrently so that the time element is shortened; so you have two documents running at the same time.
We have teams that, whenever there is a major new project--expansion of San Francisco Airport, for example, or if I could raise the issue, Petone
Mr. LIPINSKI. What did you say?
Secretary MINETA. I knew I would get a rise out of Mr. Lipinski. But in any event, whenever there is a major project, where the local FAA office is starting to look at something, or Federal Highways, or anybody else, why not go ahead and put a national team to work with them. Right now what happens is the local people look at it and complete their work, send their report back to D.C., and then we pick up on it. Why not start this process together back at the start? So those are the kinds of piggybacking that I think we can be doing.
Also, as Mr. Oberstar said, most of these projects are local level conceived and bubble up. And what we ought to be doing is working closely with the local communities right from the early perspective rather than later on. As Secretary of Commerce, when I was looking at the San Francisco Airport situation, I called John Martin, the Director of the Airport, and I said, ''John, you are thinking about building those runways into San Francisco Bay. Here at Commerce we deal with fisheries, we deal with coastal zone management, let us help you through the Environmental Impact Statement because the fisheries people and the coastal zone management are going to be involved. We can help you.''
So, again from my perspective, I can call the Department of Commerce, call the Department of Defense, call whomever and say let's work together. Those are the kinds of things I think we can be doing.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BORSKI. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, I am very encouraged by your response.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. YOUNG. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Duncan. And this will be the last person to ask questions, and then we have to break.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Secretary, first of all, let me second the comments by Mr. Borski, Mr. Oberstar, and others about the fact that I do not think the President could have chosen anyone more qualified than you to serve in this position. And secondly, for those who were not on this Committee, I would like to say that when you Chairman, you were the very model of the bipartisanship that all of us talk about but sometimes do not achieve. And I certainly appreciated your kindness. I know you are a loyal member of your Party, but you were also very kind to us on this side.
Since our time is short, rather than ask questions, let me just mention three quick topics that I wish you would give some consideration to. One is, I spent six years as Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, and we are very proud and appreciative of your support for AIR-21. But now I Chair the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee and we have over half of the locks in this country are over 50 years old and have exceeded their life span. Those take a long time to repair. If we have to force all that traffic back on to the highways, then we are going to have hundreds of thousands more trucks, a lot of problems. So I hope you will look into that.
Secondly, a group of the Nation's leading developers of the retirement communities came to me about their hope that we could speed up the wetland permit approval process, and I know that is something that has hit many small homebuilders and has greatly increased the cost of housing around the country. I hope you can consider some ways to speed up that process, maybe by DOT starting a mitigation bank or something like that.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And thirdly, and finally, I am still interested in aviation, still serve on that subcommittee. There has been some concern about airline mergers. I think everyone in this country is better off with more airlines instead of fewer. I hope that you will do whatever you can to create ease of entry so we can allow more people into the airline business in this country.
And with that, if you have some quick comments, I am sure the Chairman would let you state them.
Mr. YOUNG. You can respond if you would like to. We have about six minutes left in the vote.
Secretary MINETA. Mr. Chairman, let me very quickly say that we are looking at that whole issue of what happens in marine transportation. Just as we have had AIR-21 and TEA-21, I think we ought to be taking a look at SEA-21 maybe as a possibility.
Mr. YOUNG. We have already introduced that bill, by the way.
Secretary MINETA. You have?
Mr. YOUNG. Yes.
Secretary MINETA. Oh, okay. Great.
Secretary MINETA. Let me take a look at that. On wetland mitigation, most of that is done by the Corps of Engineers. And thirdly, on airline mergers, as you are aware, that is really done by the Department of Justice. They look at it from the perspective of antitrust. And I feel that there are other public interest issues that ought to be dealt with, and that we in the Department of Transportation are more suited to handle that portion of it. I have been told by the Attorney General, especially by the Acting Assistant Attorney General who deals in this area, butt out.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary MINETA. They are the ones who look at airline mergers. Now, I am still going to put my two cents in.
Mr. YOUNG. We appreciate it. Mr. Secretary, we are going to have a short recess. But as soon as Mr. Quinn gets back here, he will be taking the Chair to resume the hearing, and I will be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, you are welcome to use the lounge or whatever you would like to use, Mr. Secretary. Thank you very much.
Secretary MINETA. I will await your return.
Mr. YOUNG. The Committee will come to order.
Mr. Secretary, I want to commend you. Jimmy Carter used to carry his own luggage, and I notice you carry your own briefing books, sort of a sign of a good leader. Don't let the staff get hold of the briefing books, they may mess them up for you.
Mr. YOUNG. Mr. Lipinski, you are up next.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, it is a pleasure to have you here. I want to say that I think you are probably the most qualified Secretary of Transportation we ever had. But I worked very vigorously against your appointment as Secretary of Transportation. Through my very good friend, the Speaker of the House, I strongly advocated that Mr. Oberstar become Secretary of Transportation, and that Nick Rahall become head of the FAA, and Bob Borski become the Administrator for Highways in this country. Not that I had any personal interest in that, but that I really thought that they would be the best people for the job.
Secretary MINETA. That is why you should support Mr. Brewer to run for the Senate, because I figured that is the only way I was going to get to move up on the seniority chain.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LIPINSKI. Oh, that had nothing to do with it, nothing.
Mr. LIPINSKI. You mentioned in answering a question from Jimmy Duncan that you have spoken to an Assistant Attorney General in regards to consolidation in the aviation industry and saying that you think the Department of Transportation should be involved. I think the Department of Transportation should be involved also. I think it was a mistake when we allowed just the Justice Department to be involved. Unfortunately, I believe that did occur when both you and I were on this Committee. But as we grow older, we become more wise.
But I would like to know if you have formulated any kind of position on the consolidation that is going on in the airline industry at the present time. When do we get down the number of carriers where, frankly, we would have to look at reregulating for the benefit of the American flying public? We are in a situation right now where TWA for all practical purposes no longer exists, it is American Airlines. We have the situation going on with United-USAirways. Also involved there now is American Airlines with picking up part of the USAirways operation on the East Coast. We have American Airlines talking about purchasing 49 percent of the new airline that is being created, DC Air.
This is unprecedented consolidation in the aviation industry. It seems to me that right now the major carriers in this country compete very rarely head-to-head. Chicago is probably the only real example of where you have two megacarriers competing with one another on a day-in, day-out basis. Have you given any thought or consideration to where we are going with all this consolidation, and what role the Federal Government should wind up playing in that?
Secretary MINETA. First of all, the important part is to make sure that there is choice for the consumer. And in order to do that, access has to be as open as possible. Access not only to the major carriers; there are national carriers, there are regional carriers that ought to have access across the board to airports.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think the access area may be the area where the Department of Transportation can really play a role; in two ways: One, to impress upon local authorities the need to have a level playing field for new entrants to be able to come in, and by new entrants I do not mean as a new airline, but as a company that may be endeavoring to provide service at a facility or an airport that they have not been serving in the past. The other area is in terms of capacity, whether it be runways or new airports.
But the whole area of access, it seems to me, regardless of whether it is, again, new or just an airline that wants to serve an airport that they have not in the past, or new capacity is something we need to be looking at. And I think we have got to be doing that.
On that issue about how many is enough, or too little, or too large, I have not done any
Mr. LIPINSKI. And I realize you have enormous number of items on your plate at the present time. But I feel that this issue is critically important to the aviation industry. We must start thinking about when is it we get downI mean, it is very possible that within the next two years we could be done to three major carriers in this country. I do not see how Delta, Continental, and Northwest survives if the mergers between American and United and USAirways and TWA, if that all goes through, they cannot, in my opinion, survive on their own. So I think this is something we really have to look at, and I think your Department has to play an enormously significant role in that.
Now to change from aviation to railroads. Have you been able to approach anything in regards to the Swift Rail Act rulemaking that has been before the Department for quite a long period of time? Are you aware of this whatsoever?
Secretary MINETA. No, sir.
Mr. LIPINSKI. You are not. Okay. Well, the Swift Rail Act says that the Federal Department of Transportation has to come out with their rulemaking by the first of July of this year, and then, after a year's period of time, all graded crossings in this country that have a whistle band on them at the present time, unless they spend approximately $100,000 to $200,000, will have a whistle blow continually through their communities. Now I think something must be done about that. And the reason I think something must be done about that is because 45 percent of all the crossings affected are in the State of Illinois; 95 percent of those crossings are in Northeastern Illinois; and the district that ranks first in that area is on the Southwest side of Chicago in Cook County, mine, and the district that ranks second runs along the Fox River and there is a fellow by the name of Hastert that represents that district.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So we are enormously interested in what is going on there. We have tried to work with the former head of the Federal Railroad Administration, we have held hearings on it, and we have held countless meetings on it, but so far the whistle-blowing continues to move forward. So I hope you will have an opportunity to educate yourself to that particular issue and be able to get back to myself or the other gentleman who is severely adversely impacted.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Mr. QUINN. I thank the gentleman. I did not know he was against the whistle-blower act. I was really surprised.
Mr. QUINN. I am all for blowing the whistle on people. I am just against the railroads blowing the whistle on my constituents.
Mr. YOUNG. I understand that.
The gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Gilchrest.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Chairman. Mr. Secretary, I want you to know that I supported your nomination. I was also a freshman here when you were Chairman of the Committee. It was an enjoyable experience. It is good to have you back.
I have two general observations and then one more specific question, Mr. Secretary. The first observation, you have an enormous undertaking and responsibility, as does the Department of Transportation itself, when you look at the number of areas in your jurisdiction: The highways, which you said will increase in traffic 200 to 400 percent in the next so many years; aviation, you said in the next 10 years will increase traffic by 50 percent; our waterways and ports, the way they are right now, are not going to be able to handle the traffic in the next 10 or 20 years.
I will throw a little caveat into the waterways and ports, in that we do not have any national policy basically dealing with how deep our ports should be, how long the channels are, and all the rest of that stuff. But there is a hidden national policy in our ports, and I know the Corps of Engineers deals with this, and the hidden national policy in our Nation's ports is directed by the international foreign steamship company when they go from port to port to port to port telling them, like a sports franchise, if you do not deepen your port, we are not going to go there. And so we have this sort of frantic, schizophrenic situation out there where local people want to deepen the ports whether they come there or not.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I think the Department of Transportation certainly could look at the whole port infrastructure with the Corps of Engineers. I do not know what you can do about it, but we sure can begin the process of understanding the nature of Americans spending taxpayers' dollars that benefit the foreign transportation system.
Our inland water system, freight system, all these things, does the Department of Transportation look at the big picture so that they understand the intermodal system from all the various facets of your jurisdiction? Do you look at the impact, both positive by moving people with coordinating this vast array of transportation networks, aviation, highways, waterways, freight, you name it, and do you, I know you have mentioned this several times, look at what are the environmental effects not from a single project, but from the collective, cumulative impact of these projects, especially on a regional basis?
I will make one comment about environmental issues. Most of these transportation projects have an impact besides air pollution. In the Chesapeake Bay, a little more than 30 percent of the pollution problem in the Chesapeake Bay comes from air deposition, and 60 percent of that air deposition is from automobiles, the way we have strangled our regions with highways. There has been wetlands mentioned also here today, another interesting topic. But has the Department, looking at all its various responsibilities in the 50 States, ever considered working with other agencies to do a hydrologic study of the United States, what is the impact on human activity to the water cycle? And a good starting point might be the year 1500 when there were not too many people here, what did our waterways look in 1500, what was the ground water, what was our aquifer sources, and then what does the hydrologic cycle look like now in the year 2001.
I know you cannot answer all those questions in the 30 seconds that I have left. But the other thing is sort of a parochial issue dealing with the Baltimore-Washington corridor. There has been a recommendation from the Federal Railroad Administration for two MagLev projects; one from Baltimore and Washington, and the other one in Philadelphia. We would just like to see if that particular project can be move along a little bit. Thanks, Norm.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary MINETA. Mr. Gilchrest, on the MagLev, because of my involvement in it prior to coming into the Department, I am actually recused and I cannot be involved in it at all.
Regarding the kind of big picture you were talking about, I think I could say, no, we have not. But one of the things I am trying to do in the Department, because of the stove pipe nature of the various modes, is to try to get the modes interacting more with each other. There is an Associate Deputy Secretary of Transportation for Intermodalism. And while there is an Associate Deputy Secretary of Intermodalism, there is also an Assistant Secretary of Policy, and there is an Assistant Secretary of Aviation and International Affairs. And I am thinking of doing some reorganization within the Department and combining those three boxes into one. Because so much of our funding is either earmarked or the funds are distributed to local and State government by formula, we have very little discretionary money. So the big thing that happens in the Department is policy. We do not have the fire power, in trying to deal with the myriad of questions that you are throwing at me, of being able to turn to somebody and say, ''What are we doing about that?'' because they are all segmented.
So I want to get policy to be more integrated and able to deal with items like port clearance that takes FRA, that takes Highway Administration, all the modes and says, all right, what are we doing to ensure that when--I do not know, that 58-foot-draft vessel comes into the Port of Baltimore with 12,000 TEUs--can we clear the Port of Baltimore and get those containers on a railbed or a truckbed and get it out of there. We are ill-prepared right now to do those things. We have got good, conscientious people who know what their subject matters are, but I think we have got to get them a little more integrated into looking at the big picture, as you have said, to come out with a program or a project that fulfills these things. Right now, I think they are sort of segmented.
Mr. YOUNG. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank the gentleman.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Rahall.
Mr. RAHALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, I join with my colleagues in welcoming you before our Committee today. You certainly have not forgotten from whence you come. You have spent a lot of time during your tenure already on Capitol Hill with us in various forums, and we do appreciate that. You come from a very strong background in transportation. Unlike my colleague from Illinois, I supported your nomination for Secretary of Transportation, even if the other name would have been Jim Oberstar.
Secretary MINETA. That is worth a bridge.
Mr. RAHALL. No, that comes in my written statement that I ask unanimous consent to submit in the record.
Actually, Mr. Secretary, I want to ask you a question about intelligent transportation systems. As you know, ITS is part of TEA-21, which actually I guess originated back during ISTEA which you were so intimately involved in. And let me say a word overall about both of these pieces of legislation. If there is any one piece of legislation that this Congress has passed that when people come to the Hill I have the briefest visits with, it is on TEA-21, because they basically come and say four words''Thank you. It works.''and they are out of my office. So I think that is a tribute to you and certainly to the leadership on this Committee that we have produced legislation that works so well.
In regard to the intelligent transportation system, that is a part of that, and we certainly support that in West Virginia. They tell me that these technologies have been helpful in moving traffic and cutting down on accidents. But the technologies are obviously expensive, and therefore cost-prohibitive. I do understand that the ITS has been scattered around the Nation. Although the fiscal year 2002 budget will not be released for a few more days, I am wondering if you can give us some idea on how DOT will spend the fiscal year 2002 funds to improve development of ITS.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary MINETA. Mr. Rahall, it is part of the guaranteed funding under the TEA-21. That has $253 million for ITS, and that is, as I recall, a 32 percent increase over fiscal year 2001 that we will be getting in fiscal year 2002. So ITS is a good way to be able to make things better.
My big thing about ITS is we have been so heavily weighted on the R&D side that I really want to get to deployment. I want to be able to see the full array of intelligent transportation system methodologies being utilized. And when I talk about ATIS, I do not mean just advance travel information signs, because when you are driving down the highway and the ATIS is there and it says ''Congestion Ahead,'' I do not need to be told there is congestion ahead because I am already sitting in traffic going five miles an hour. What I want that ATIS to say is ''Get off at Exit 37, go over to Folger Avenue to get back on at Exit 38.'' But we are not there yet.
I want to be able to have ITS being utilized in a much more robust manner. We know the technology of being able to put strips in the road to detect the temperature dropping. So maybe right now all you need is to put down sand, but as the temperature drops further, you know it is going to drop, so you better get the trucks out there with the salt, and you can preposition trucks because of the weather that you know is coming in. But all this is ITS and these are the kinds of things we ought to be doing rather than having big signs telling me congestion ahead. But you are absolutely right, and that is what I want to do in terms of deployment of ITS systems.
Mr. RAHALL. These are
Mr. YOUNG. Your time is up, my friend.
Mr. RAHALL. I am sorry. Okay.
Mr. YOUNG. But you have one more question?
Mr. RAHALL. No, I will yield to my Ranking Member.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. OBERSTAR. Would the Chair yield for just a brief comment. The short form answer to the gentleman's question is that the Department is going to do exactly what the Appropriations Committee earmarked those funds to do instead of giving the Department the discretion this Committee authorized in TEA-21 on ITS projects. They have earmarked every dime of it. You have no discretion. It is an insult to the process and does not give the Department the opportunity to do what the Secretary has already suggested.
Mr. YOUNG. And we are going to change that when the appropriate time comes. There you go.
Mr. YOUNG. Mr. Mica. And I am not trying to cut anybody off here. Just in fairness to Mr. Mica.
Mr. MICA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, I had the opportunity to serveI am much younger than Mr. Gilchrestbut I was a freshman when you were Chairman and I do want to say publicly that you taught me I think how well a committee can work together, both sides of the aisle, and I appreciate that. I have tried to follow your model now I am saddled with the Aviation Subcommittee Chair and trying to work on some of those challenges that we have discussed.
One of the things that you mentioned today was the capacity benchmarks which is so important to finding out the real limits of our 31 largest airports. I understand that most of that work is done and that report is about to be released. Can you give us, for the record, some estimate as to when we will have that?
Secretary MINETA. I would say probably by the end of the month.
Mr. MICA. We were tentatively planning a hearing I think on the 25th or 26th. So if we could get it by the end of the month, it would be helpful. Possible?
Secretary MINETA. Yes, sir.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MICA. Thank you so much.
Secretary MINETA. If it is not all embossed in gold. I mean, it is going to be 80 percent complete, and whatever we have you are welcome to have.
Mr. MICA. A couple of points there. I know there are no magic bullets to solving our air traffic congestion and delays. One of the things we did provide for in AIR-21 was our Air Traffic Services Oversight Board, and that could go a long way to helping provide some direction within FAA of our modernization effort. I understand you have been having trouble attracting a COO that is also called for in that legislation. What is the major problem there?
Secretary MINETA. Pay.
Mr. MICA. All right. Thank you. I think we will have a remedy to work with you on resolving that.
Even when we get the congestion pricing reporting, you have recommended one remedy, peak period pricing/congestion pricing. Last year, FAA reimposed slots at LaGuardia as a temporary solution. Are there other solutions or recommendations you might have for the Congress to deal with this, or you may be anticipating as far as administrative actions to deal with it? I think we know what the problem is. We can only land so many planes at our major congested airports on so many runways. In the near-term, we have got to deal with that problem.
Secretary MINETA. I think when it comes to congestion in aviation, we really have to look at it from: on the ground, ground up to 29,000 feet, 29,000 feet and above, so that we are not only looking at en route centers, we are looking at the TRACON as well as the tower at a specific airport, trying to look at all of those elements to see where we losing space and time. That becomes a very difficult matrix to try to deal with because it is not like a flat piece of paper. You are dealing with a three-dimensional subject matter on a flat plane.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think the other thing that we are looking at is that the technology in the cockpit is probably outpacing the technology of ground-based radar, air traffic control. So, again, free flight becomes an element to deal with congestion.
One of the other things, if I mightjust thinking out loud, and I do get into trouble by thinking out loud in publicbut, Mr. Chairman, if I might share this chart with all of you. You have seen this chart. This is roughly the growth in departures over the years. These erratic lines are delays, the highest being 1981 at the time of the Air Traffic Control strike. This is 1998, and all of a sudden we have this tremendous increase in delays. And then when you look at what caused the delay, then you realize that close to 70 percent of the delays came from weather. In 1998, 68.7 percent of the delays came from weather; terminal volume, 8.1 percent; center volume, 3.8 percent; runways and taxiways, 4.7 percent.
Now, did the weather get so bad in that one year 1998 that all of a sudden there were all these delays? Well, one of the things is that, as Mr. Oberstar knows so well, that was the year that we superimposed weather radar on the screens. Now I do not know, and this is, again, just me, but in any event, I am wondering whether or not the air traffic controllers aren't looking at that screen and seeing yellows and oranges and reds and saying, ''United 237, stay in Chicago.'' I do not know. Because as those planes are coming Eastbound, I think our air traffic controllers are now saying ''stay out of the area.'' Three weekends out of the month commuting to my district I would fly in the jump seat, and we would be up there watching and there would be a big thunderhead over here, you see another over there, and they would ask for a 7 degree deviation as they fly through, and get on to their destination.
We are telling them now to stay on the ground in Chicago, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or if they are coming across country where they may be flying 10 miles in trail separation, they are saying now to go to 40 miles separation and backing up the system. And so while we are trying to keep safety high, airlines do not want to have their passengers sitting there in an airplane like this. I understand that. But I am wondering if maybe we did not get too cautious, too conservative, if you do not mind my using that term
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. YOUNG. As long as it is compassionate, I do not care.
Secretary MINETA. In terms of the air traffic control.
Mr. MICA. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary, just one final thing. I have noticed since taking over this Chair that we do not really have a good definition for what causes delays. I know FAA is looking at trying to come up with a standard. We need to get that standard in place so we know what measure we have, and then also get that instituted on an annual reporting basis so we can make certain that we know what those facts are. I look forward to working with you on that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. YOUNG. I thank you.
Mr. CLEMENT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good to see you again, Mr. Secretary. We miss you in the U.S. House of Representatives. You were a great Chairman here and I know you are going to serve us well as our new Secretary of Transportation.
I know you have great responsibilities when it comes to having jurisdiction over aviation, Coast Guard, marine transportation, highways, transit, rail programs, ports and waterways, consumer protection, et cetera. I know it is almost overwhelming. I think all of us know also that congestion is affecting all modes of transportation. This country truly wants to rebuild America, truly wants to put more emphasis on our infrastructure. You mentioned the weather a while ago, and I guess you were saying we had more inclement weather than clement weather, from what you said
Mr. CLEMENT. So just to set the record straight. But as the Ranking Democrat on the Railroad Subcommittee, Chairman Quinn and I are going to have a number of hearings. I do feel like we have the best rail freight service on earth. I congratulate the railroads for providing such service, when you compare us with continents such as Europe, and Asia, and other places.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I do know in the State of Tennessee and other places, we have truly been overlooked when it comes to rail passenger service. There are a lot of places like Tennessee in the country, I realize, that want us to put more emphasis on public transit and mass transit.
We have a lot of mobility in our society today. I know we love our automobiles, and I know we have got to build more roads and better roads, and replace obsolete bridges, and all that. But as you go through this process, knowing the frustration, knowing the anxiety of people, knowing that we seem to be on the fast track these days and people do not know how to slow down, but somehow we have got to think better and think in a way of solving a lot of our problems. I know I asked one of the Chinese leaders not long ago, ''Well, I guess you are going to go from the bicycle to the car.'' They said, ''No, no, no, no, Congressman Clement. We are going to keep our bicycle but we are going to put a lot more emphasis on public transit and mass transit.''
Under your leadership, what are your feelings concerning this issue?
Secretary MINETA. First of all, I think as you look at the big picture, the question about how to relieve congestion is really the number one issue. And going back to an earlier question about the issue of things like port clearance--and since her coming to Congress, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald has really been concentrating on this whole idea of what to do as in the case of the Alameda Corridor--To me, those are the kinds of things we have got to be doing, is try to relieve the freeway system by having things like the Alameda Corridor that can help clear the port of Long Beach, Los Angeles, and get cargo to the railhead to be able to go forward.
There are a number of places I think we ought to try to be looking at in terms of utilizing modes more efficiently. There may be areas, and Mr. Duncan or someone raised the point about locks, there may be areas where we have to be relying more on our marine transportation system to help relieve that congestion.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is no question that congestion exists on the highway system. The question is how do you relieve that. Railroads would be one way. Waterways would be another. But we are not there yet, either in terms of financial resources or even in terms of attitude about looking at some of these alternatives. Most of it is still concentrated on laying more concrete. There are some places where you cannot lay more concrete. We have just got to be smarter in how we do things. And that requires the use of technology, going back to Mr. Rahall's question about intelligent transportation systems. There are ways to do that and I think what we have got to do is have the muscle to do it.
Mr. CLEMENT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. YOUNG. Thank the gentleman.
I now recognize the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. LaTourette.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, I want to add my congratulations. Nothing made us happier in Ohio than when you were nominated and confirmed and everything else. Unlike some of the grizzled veterans behind me, I came with the revolutionaries in 1995, and the way that you as Ranking Member of this Committee with Mr. Shuster conduct this Committee, and now your follower, Mr. Oberstar, it made a big impression upon me and it was in stark contrast to some of the other committees around here where you sort of had to get up and put on battle armor in 1995 before you came to work.
I have two parochial issues that I just want to discuss with you, if I could. They both have to do with the State of Ohio. There used to be more Ohioans on the Committee, but something happened to Mr. Traficant on the way to the forum, and Mr. Ney is now Chairman of the House Administration Committee. So I am left by myself.
Despite Ohio's size, our inventory of highways and bridges and everything else, just the fifth highest truck traffic, fourth largest interstate traffic system, second largest in bridge inventories. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons Cleveland used to be called the best location in the Nation is that if you take a line 500 miles you will find over 70 percent of the Fortune 500 companies and also 70 percent of America's manufacturing base.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It leads me to the point that, while we all realize that States like Pennsylvania, and Alaska, and Minnesota, and West Virginia have complex and interesting transportation needs that require resources, last year, fiscal year 2000, the Department had about $286 million in discretionary funds that were sent out. And one of the beauties of TEA-21 is that we have the formula in place and we have some predictability as to how proceeds will be distributed among the States. But despite the fact that there were $286 million in discretionary projects awarded, Ohio got $2.3 million, which is less than 1 percent.
The reason I bring it up is that our poor Department of Transportation Director in Ohio is walking around like a man who thinks he is doing something wrong. If there is some direction perhaps that the Department could give Ohio as to how to get closer to the 3.5 percent, maybe we are not writing our stuff properly, maybe it does not match up well against projects from other States, but, clearly, while we realize that we are not going to equal 3.5 percent as we would under TEA-21, it is the feeling that something must be amiss if we are below 1 percent. That would be the first one.
The second one has to do with ethanol and one of these sort of conundrums that you find yourself in in public life; and that is, about four out of every ten gallons in Ohio is ethanol-based. That is a good thing for our air. It gets us out of mischief with the EPA. It gets us in mischief, however, with the Highway Trust Fund, in particular because 2.5 cents goes into the general fund rather than the Highway Trust Fund, we get 10 cents for every gallon as opposed to 18 cents. And so while we are enjoying this big plus-up in all of the highway accounts across the country, Ohio is actually getting less than they would as a distributive share because of this ethanol difficulty.
So what you have is we are making the air cleaner because we burn better fuel, but we are sitting in traffic jams longer because we do not have enough money to fix our roads. It is a tough problem.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We had approached, under the leadership of Mr. Shuster in the last Congress, the previous Secretary to work with us to perhaps figure out a way, and not disturb those folks that are advocating ethanol use, which we all do, and not disturb the subsidy, but perhaps find a way to help that 2.5 cents get back into, or have a State get credit for doing the right thing by the environment but not be whacked when it comes to road repairs. I would solicit any comment that you might have.
Secretary MINETA. First of all, I did not realize, in terms of that amount that you were talking about, the difference between the total discretionary program and the amount that went to Ohio. That is something we can discuss. There is no question that Ohio is one of those States you have to go through to get anywhere. I remember we used to have this discussion with Bob McEwen when he was a member of the Committee and a Representative from Ohio because we were trying to deal with that Ohio situation at that point. I recognize what the problem is. Let's sit down and talk about it.
Mr. LATOURETTE. I thank you.
Secretary MINETA. On the ethanol issue, that is going to have to be dealt with I think legislatively. But it is something that even in our task force we talk about. I raised the issue yesterday that, as we go to conservation methods, or in terms of alternative fuels, or as cars get better fuel efficiency, the impact on the trust fund is something that we have got to look at. I do not have an answer for that other than to say, as I said yesterday to our task force, this is something that we are going to have to really examine. But in terms of the 2.5 cents, that would have to be dealt with legislatively. And I am not in a position to even make up for the loss of the 2.5 cents that goes into the trust fund. But it is one that I know is a very big issue with probably people like Senator Grassley and others who have been very active in that field.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Right. Thank you very much.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. YOUNG. Thank the gentleman.
I recognize the lady from the District of Columbia, Ms. Norton.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, I need only associate myself with the accolades you have heard this morning from both sides of the aisle and to say how fortunate the country is to have you as Secretary.
Before I ask a question about the air spaces above us, as I prepare to go to California, I would like to ask a question closer to home. You may well be aware of a letter sent to Mitch Daniels with a copy to you from the four leaders of this Committee concerning the DOT building itself, signed by Chairman Young, Chairman LaTourette, Ranking Member Oberstar, and Ranking Member Costello. I do not need to tell you you are well past the 30 year limit to be in the building. You occupy a building that the Federal Government has put $1 billion in rent into without owning a brick of it.
Our Subcommittee has tried to keep this from happening. It is a horrible waste of taxpayers' money. We have labored long and hard to get a formulation for taking care of the costs so that the Department could move out of that building. That took some years of back and forth. As you may be aware, some of the employees had to be moved out of the building because it was such a sick building, and parts of it are still in need of extensive renovation. Finally, an RFP was let and apparently for seven months now GSA has been ready to decide who has won the RFP and can build the building.
I have to ask you what you and the Administration are doing to bring to resolution this matter now many years old and seven months old with respect to the outstanding RFP.
Secretary MINETA. When I was Chairing the Public and Grounds Subcommittee we approved the Department of Transportation Building to be built at the REA site next to Union Station, across from what is today the Thurgood Marshall Building. That was I believe 1988. And here in 2001 I am sitting in the Nassif Building.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Part of this is it is an arcane subject, relating to scoring in the budget. The problem is, if we proceed with a capital lease and score it as a capital lease, we can spend $1.2 billion in total costs over time and get a 1.8 million-square-foot building. On the other hand, the OMB is saying that this has to be scored as an operating lease and we will then be expending some $2.4 billion on a 1.3 million square foot building. The authorization that was passed by the Congress says DOT you get a 1.3 million square foot building, there is an additional 400,000 option, and if we do not get the option, then the Coast Guard will not be able to be in the same building with us.
I am pushing to get this as a capital lease. But the problem is if you go with a capital lease, you are talking about a $478 million first year outlay, and there is no way OMB is going to approve a $478 million outlay. So I am stuck between the rock and the hard place. I cannot get a 1.8 million square foot building that we need to house the Department of Transportation, I will get 1.3 million square feet because they are willing to go with an operating lease. And what do we do? We end up paying $2.4 billion over the 30 year period as compared to $1.2 billion if I go capital lease.
Ms. NORTON. Mr. Secretary, this is the kind of nonsense that from one Administration to the next, regardless of which Party, we have had to deal with.
Secretary MINETA. It is regardless of Administration. Score-keeping. Score-keeping.
Ms. NORTON. It really is. And I must say that there is some considerable controversy and disagreement about how the scoring is to be done. I believe that at some point this Committee may have to have a hearing on this matter. We cannot just let this RFP sit out there forever. I do not think the Committee intends to let it sit out there forever. I think it is unfair to let it sit out there. And if I may say so, I am perfectly aware that there are folks, not appointed, but folks on whom the appointed folks rely, who do not want a new DOT building, said let them stay where they are, they do not care how sick the building is, they do not care how much we have been paying, they just want the status quo.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think that the letter from the four leaders of this Committee should send all the signal the Administration needs. Go below the appointees. The appointees have to stop relying on people who have stopped the DOT from having a building for 30 years now and take responsibility for moving that RFP out or I believe this Committee should have a hearing to find out why.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MICA [ASSUMING CHAIR]. I thank the gentlelady.
Secretary MINETA. I am about to have to sign a 10 year lease on the present building.
Ms. NORTON. I ask you not to do that.
Secretary MINETA. Well, I will not do it. But on the other hand, the owners of the building are going to want their rental payments.
Ms. NORTON. Yes. Well, they can get it on a month-to-month. You should not sign a 10 year lease. That would really be outrageous with the RFP sticking out there unresolved one way or the other.
Secretary MINETA. It would take 10 years to build a building, 8 to 10 years.
Ms. NORTON. If we knew it was going to be built, it would be worth it to sign the lease. Otherwise, it does not sound to me to be the right thing to do to simply foreclose this. The RFP needs to be settled, then whatever lease is appropriate it seems to me can be signed.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentlelady.
Let me recognize now the gentleman from New York, Mr. Quinn.
Mr. QUINN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, welcome. I want to associate myself with the remarks of others this morning who have talked about your leadership and your experience for this job. You know that I am a former high school teacher. We talked when I first came to the Committee, about 8 or 10 years ago for me. You really taught me how to work on this Committee. I am thrilled to be here and appreciate what you have done for me and friends of ours on this full Committee.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The topic today, of course, generally, is congestion in our transportation system. I believe, Mr. Secretary, that our national railroad system is probably one of the most under-utilized modes we have when we talk about getting cars off our highways, and the airline congestion, and our ports. Now that we have a Subcommittee on Railroads again, my partner, Mr. Clement and I will continue to work to take advantage of the railroad system in this country. Along with the members of the subcommittee, we look for your help and your advice and your counsel to do just that.
I would like to bring one matter to your attention this afternoon, though. That deals with the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Act, the RRIF financing. I am certain you are aware, in 1998 in TEA-21 we put aside $3.5 billion as a loan program to deal with this. And to date, not one single penny has been used$3.5 billion in 1998 for railroad infrastructure loan program and not a penny has been used. Some of that was rulemaking, some of it was delays here and there and everywhere.
Mr. Secretary, I am not interested in trying to figure out why it has not happened or to blame anybody now. But we would be very, very interested in working with you to get that program up and running. We think that kind of money is sorely needed, and we would be willing to work with you in the future to get that started. I would be interested in any comments you might have on how we might head in that direction.
Secretary MINETA. Jack, I am not familiar with it right off the top of my head. I am trying to think whether or not monies were appropriated for this program. And from what I can see here, the railroads can pay for the subsidy cost of this program. So, let me take a look at that as to why there is not utilization of this. I am quite sure that small and regional railroads should be able to utilize this.
Mr. QUINN. Certainly. Mr. Secretary, if I may. One of the things, after two years, when some of the rules were finally promulgated, as they came out, some of the features in them absolutely crippled what the original bipartisan intent was of this full Committee. So it did not surprise some of us that it is not able to be used, because we warned about that kind of thing happening. All I would suggest, and I am not trying to put you on the spot, Norm, with any specific questions here today, but it is a big program. We will work at appropriating the money, and we would like to continue to work with you and your staff to get the program in a position where people can access it. In a good faith effort, I know Bob Clement and I stand ready to help you in any way we can.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary MINETA. Great.
Mr. QUINN. Thank you.
Secretary MINETA. We do have a loan that is making its way through and I believe it was inching towards my door on the 26th of March.
Mr. QUINN. That is good news, Mr. Secretary. We would like to see some more after three years. We have got the projects ready, willing, and able out there to get going at it. So, as I said, we are not interested in why it has not happened thus far. But if we are talking about congestion, we are talking about infrastructure for rail, this is why it was put in TEA-21 in 1998, and we would like to help you activate it and get it moving. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. MICA. Thank the gentleman.
I recognize the gentleman now from California, Mr. Filner.
Mr. FILNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, welcome home. It is great to see you here in this, your room. Certainly, we in California are glad that someone who is from California is in your position.
I would just like to bring before you a couple of issues that I am sure you are familiar with and we have discussed in the past. as you know, I represent San Diego, California. I am in the very Southwest corner of the Nation and I am on the border with Mexico. Before NAFTA passed, we had something like a couple hundred trucks crossing the border between our two Nations. Both of the border crossings in California are in my district and something like 40 percent now of all truck traffic between our two Nations crosses through San Diego. We are now up to 3,000 or more trucks a day crossing that border. Yet there is no interstate highway that connects those border crossings with our Interstate Highway System. Those trucks, which, as you know, would pose great safety and other problems, just go on a city street. It has been enlarged, but it is still basically a city street and it is probably one of the most unsafe streets in the country.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think just after you left we were able to put in TEA-21 a border infrastructure fund to begin to deal with these, because these are not local, dare I say, pork barrel issues or just local concerns, these are infrastructure issues that come to us as a result of national policy. We hope that you would make sure that fund has sufficient funds to deal with these issues. You are very much aware of these issues, and I just want to stress that it is the infrastructure, or lack thereof, that is blocking further expansion of this kind of trade which is so vital to our whole Nation.
Secretary MINETA. On the issue, you are very well aware of the panel that has ruled that we, the United States of America, have not complied with the provisions of NAFTA. And to the extent that we have not, they have said to Mexico it is okay for you to impose $1 billion worth of sanctions against the United States. On the 22nd of March, we met with the Mexican delegation and we have now a program of activities to take care of the border crossings in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
The panel also said that the Mexican trucking companies and drivers will have to observe U.S. laws. That was, for me, who voted for NAFTA, a great relief because it was that harmonization provision in NAFTA which I was a little fearful of. But at least in this instance now, in terms of the commercial drivers license, in terms of all the safety issues, trucks and drivers are going to have to meet our standards.
So now we are in the process of putting together the rules and regulations and the programs to put that into effect. That will go into effect on January 1, 2002. So we are utilizing not only Federal resources, but also State resources to do all of this.
Mr. FILNER. You are still a master, Mr. Secretary. You just took my issue and turned it to your issue. I will just put in one sentence. I want to make sure we have enough money for State Route 905 that connects the border with our Interstate Highway System. I hope we can get that funded.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One other quick issue, sir. As congestion issues arise and take center stage in urban planning, you know the talk and the discussions around smart growth. San Diego, which has traditionally built freeways to try to deal with the highway congestion, has finally understood that this is not going to solve the issues. And we are embarked upon a real visionary approach toward bringing together mass transit to unite what we call urban villages and use, something I think you referred to in your written testimony, intelligent transportation systems. We have plans for theseI am not sure what the lingo is yetflex trollies or rubber-wheeled trains; that is, a subway looking bus that has a platform that you enter at grade and there are multidoors to the bus, it is on its own right-of-way and has traffic synchronization to help it through the traffic.
Hopefully, the Department of Transportation might look at some of these projects that are in the visionary stage and help us with some demonstration projects to show the public that this is the way to solve some of the urban congestion issues. We hope that you look very creatively at some of the things that are coming out of the cities. As you know from your own experience in city government, a lot of innovation and creativity comes from the cities and can use some Federal help for getting it off the ground. So I hope you will look at that. Thank you again.
Secretary MINETA. Thank you.
Mr. MICA. I recognize at this time the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Kirk.
Mr. KIRK. Thank you. Mr. Secretary, what a natural advantage you have in testifying in a room with your portrait already on the wall. I want to raise two issues with you.
One, is our concern, along with Congressman Lipinski, on train whistles. The previous Administration had an approach of requiring a train whistle at every intersection to respond to what I would describe as a ''Dukes of Hazard'' driving culture in Florida which is not the driving culture of Northern Illinois. For the quiet communities in my district, where we have many intersections without an accident with a train, having a 114 decibel train whistle spread noise pollution throughout the district, according to one study, would have caused a $1 billion property loss in our area. I hope to be working with Congressman Lipinski and that we get a much more flexible approach than the previous Administration was looking at.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But my key priority is a project you well knowMetra, near and dear to the heart of the Speaker and myself. This being the Speaker's district, and his being my district. The gridlock in Southern Lake County, I would rack up against any gridlock in Northern Virginia. We are not talking three cycle lights; we are talking nine cycle lights. In fact, the road right here called Half Day Road we now have nicknamed ''All Day Road'' because of the real congestion.
The line that I am most worried about is Metra's North Central line. We are expecting about 250,000 people to move into Lake County in the next 10 years. This is already one of the fastest growing parts of America. Now the Department of Transportation signed a full funding agreement in the last day of the Clinton Administration for the Chicago Transportation Authority's Blue Line. We have three pending full funding agreements with Metra. My understanding is the regional authorities at DOT have now forwarded the full funding agreement for the North Central line of Metra to DOT. We are going to have a 60-day waiting period. So my question first is, when do you think that will come up for the full funding agreement for Metra?
Secretary MINETA. I am trying to look at the North Central line. This is under its final review in Headquarters. We will be sending it up to the Hill for the 60-day review here probably within the next 45 to 60 days. I still have to get OMB clearance on this. So as soon as I take a look at it, sign off on it, send it to OMB, then we will send it up here to the Hill for its 60-day review.
Mr. KIRK. Good.
Secretary MINETA. But I think I am still a month and a-half to two months away from getting it up here. But it will be sometime this Spring.
Mr. KIRK. Good. I know that the Speaker and I will be talking to the President about that. So once you are ready to go, we will make it
Secretary MINETA. Whatever the boss says.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
Mr. KIRK. Did you include funding for North Central and, I must ask also, for the Metra West Line which runs in the Speaker's district in the budget request?
Secretary MINETA. The West Line to Elburn is currently in the regional office for review. They will then forward it on to us, and then we will be going through the process at headquarters, again with OMB concurrence, and then sending it up to the Hill for its 60-day review.
Mr. KIRK. Do you think we have fiscal year 2003 funding in what you are sending up?
Secretary MINETA. The budget for fiscal year 2003 is still being worked on and we do not have it yet.
Mr. KIRK. Okay. Well, I reiterate my interest. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.
Secretary MINETA. We will keep the West line on our radar screen.
Mr. KIRK. Thank you very much.
Mr. MICA. Thank the gentleman from Illinois. But did he refer to the drivers in Florida as ''Dukes of Hazard'' drivers? If that is the case, then we have the ''Blues Brother'' drivers in Illinois.
Mr. MICA. Let me recognize the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Mascara.
Mr. MASCARA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, Secretary Mineta. As a former colleague, and friend, and, if you will remember, you helped me to get my assignment on this Committee and this gives me an opportunity to thank you publicly for that. I am sure that you will serve at the highest level and will do a fine job for this country as it relates to transportation with your experience here on this Committee.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I represent a congressional district that contains two of the poorest counties in Pennsylvania nd communities that were economically devastated by the collapse of the steel and coal industries. The region I represent includes parts of Allegheny County which includes the city of Pittsburgh, the only major city in the country without a beltway. If you want to go East or West, you must go through the city and go through two tunnels. When there are problems in the tunnels, the congestion there is just out of sight. This lends, of course, to gridlock and congestion.
This, as you well know, discourages businesses from locating in our part of the country in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, our region did not participate in the recent recovery and economic good times in the United States. That was due, in part, to the lack of highway infrastructure.
Over 30 years ago, we attempted to address the problem by supporting the building of the Monfayette Expressway that runs North and South in that part of Southwestern Pennsylvania. It runs from the West Virginia border at Morgantown on Highway 68 to 376 in Pittsburgh, and the Southern beltway, which is a part of the Monfayette Expressway, also takes us right to the new international airport at Pittsburgh. This is over 100 miles of highway at a cost of about $3.1 billion. And once it is finished, it will complete the link of the entire region to the National Transportation Corridor. The State of Pennsylvania has committed to spend over $1 billion, of which 95 percent of that came from State funds. They were committed revenues from gasoline taxes or oil franchise taxes.
My question is, do you feel that highway projects that have a preponderance of State and local money should be given some sort of preference, a reward, a special consideration for using State and local dollars to build those highways? I suggested in the last ISTEA that some language be put into the bill that would reward States who are using their own State tax dollars to build highways. And while T-21 has some discretionary funding, I am sure that Pennsylvania did not get much more than $1 million out of that. Would you support adding some language to the next ISTEA or somehow augmenting what we have now to reward States who are making major spending commitments to have some additional Federal funding for those projects?
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary MINETA. Well, the idea of rewarding I think probably has to be based on a couple of items. One would be in terms of the basic distribution of the formula dollars that go to a State. I do not know whether or not we gain more from even distribution through formula. It seems to me that if we do anything above the formula, it then always sort of imbalances the system.
How do we utilize discretionary funds to supplement programs? I am not sure how it is done right now. I am not sure whether we do it on percentage of local and State monies in there or whether it is done on income levels, or vehicle miles travelled, what the other factors are. I would have to take a look at that, Frank.
Mr. MASCARA. If I could use the Monfayette Southern Beltway as an example, normally we are talking about 80-20, in this instance, the State of Pennsylvania has 95 percent of its money and only 5 percent of the Federal money in that project. Really, that project, that 68 miles from Morgantown to Pittsburgh, it is the only way that we are going to dig ourselves out of the economic devastation that took place in that part of the country. Just take a look at that, perhaps there could be some formula that could be devised.
Secretary MINETA. I will take a look at that.
Mr. MASCARA. And the other thing is I would like to help youMs. Norton referred you, and my accounting background always comes out of me when we are talking about depreciation and costsbut I would suggest that you assign a life to the cost of that building and use the Internal Revenue Service code to depreciate that building and have CBO to charge that on an annual basis what the depreciation would be. That will hold down the cost. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MICA. Thank the gentleman.
I recognize the lady from California, Ms. Millender-McDonald.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And let me add to the voices that have welcomed this great fourteenth Secretary of Transportation to the Committee, knowing his leadership that was on ISTEA that provided the Alameda Corridor to us, and also the myriad of projects that you have provided the leadership on throughout this country. California is very proud of you, Mr. Secretary, and want to continue to work with you as we go into this 21st century.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Having said that, I would like to also join the Chair in asking for full funding for TEA-21 with this reauthorization coming 2003. I do not need to tell you of the urgency in California's need for infrastructure given the recent census report. We now have 34 million people in California. Congestion has just impacted the mobilization not only in Southern California, where I represent from Los Angeles to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, but also the entire State of California. So I do not need to tell you that, being you are a native son, but it is a staggering $72 billion that motorist are out of with the weight and fuel given the congestion.
My concerns though become extremely critical when we talk about aviation. You know very well that LAX is witnessing a capacity level that is about 70 million and looking at the possibility of 100 million who would want to utilize LAX. However, I would like for you to either discuss now, or look into this with a great deal of urgency, how can we balance the proposed expansion in LAX with the under-utilization of capacity at Ontario, El Toro, Palmdale, and the Inland Empire in terms of utilization of those airports. Would you suggest a regional approach to this to meet the capacity needs? Or what would be your thoughts on this? Because it has now become a tremendous issue in the Southern California area among the local, State, and Federal members and the neighborhoods that are surrounding the airport.
High speed is another thing. If we are to look at those airports and capacity build-out of those airports in Inland Empire and Palm Dale and others, then high speed is certainly a critical component to the mitigation of congestion in that area.
Speaking now from the Northern part, San Francisco Airport is another airport that we must look at seriously in terms of improvement. This is why it is critical to look at AIR-21 as well and anything that we can do in terms of all of the airports in California. I have gone to all of them in the Southern California area, have spoken to the executive director at the San Francisco Airport, and plan to go to the Northern part. The airports are critical in having your leadership and your input on how can we expand capacity in that region that we know 150 million passengers will be coming through the Los Angeles area and that whole regional area, and the high speed that will help us if, in fact, we have to build capacity beyond, and we know we have to, beyond LAX into Palm Dale and El Toro.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And thirdly, my question is, how do we move to expand in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach given that those two ports make up the largest port system in the country and will be quadrupled in terms of freight cargo. We have a big problem. We need your leadership in your State, and we would like to hear from you. Thank you so much.
Secretary MINETA. First of all, I had the opportunity recently to meet with a team from SCAG, with Mark Pasanto, the executive director, Ron Bates, and others, talking about specifically about the airports and the whole issue of LAX, Ontario, El Toro, John Wayne, Palm Dale, and going on out to March, George, and Edwards Air Base in the Riverside, San Bernardino area. It seems to me that there are ways of looking at the capacity of those airports and sayingeven if you look at LAX' experience, the cap there was 48 million passengers, as I recall, and now, as you say, you are at 70 million and going on up to 100 million.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. They would love to do that.
Secretary MINETA. And so the question is, is there a way of capping an airport but distributing that passenger flow within those airports within the region? On paper, I think it can be done. But the question then becomes, is there community acceptance? I look at El Toro and I get it from both sides in terms of ''build it,'' ''no, we do not want it.'' So I am not going to sit there from the Federal level and say you have got to do it. To me, that has got to bubble up from the local level. If the local people do not want it, I am not going to sit there and cram it down their throat.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. You are absolutely right. We cannot look at 100 million passengers coming out of Los Angeles Airport. But we must also look at the growth in that region and see how we are going to mobilize people from one place to the other.
Secretary MINETA. And I happen to be one who wants to be able to deal with the capacity side and not suppress demand. So I want to build the capacity piece of it. And the question is, how do we distribute that.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And even when you talk about rail, at the time of the Northridge earthquake when the I-5/State Route 14 interchange went down, we had to institute rail traffic up into that area and we did it in a very quick way. But as soon as that crisis was over, then rail traffic fell off; people were back on the highway. No one wants to keep having perpetual earthquakes to keep people on the trains. But until habits change or people's attitudes are to say, ''yes, I am ready to use alternative forms of transportation,'' it makes it very difficult to say where should we be putting our monies. Even though we have a whole menu of high speed rail, transit, highways, waterways options, and we want to plan it out that way, the question is can we.
And then the other problem is dollars. In many instances, we do not have the dollars and, especially in the area of high speed rail because that still has not really been
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. But I would like for you to critically look at high speed rail because that is going to be one of the answers that we have in moving these airports out into the regional part of Southern California to mitigate the traffic at LAX. And I would like to invite you to come out and talk with all of us as soon as you can. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentlelady.
I now recognize the gentleman from Oregon, Mr. Blumenauer.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate, Mr. Secretary, your tremendous patience. I wanted to raise just two questions with you, if I could. One, you were right in the middle of the creation of this bipartisan multimodal spirit that moved forward with what I think is going to be regarded as one of the great accomplishments of infrastructure in the last 50 years. That was taking the Surface Transportation Act and redefining it so that it could meet more of the needs of more communities, giving them increased flexibility. We have been able to successfully go through two reauthorizations now.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As we prepare for the next reauthorization, we would welcome any suggestions or thoughts you may have about things we can do now on this Committee to be able to prepare for the type of national bipartisan cooperation to deal with this opportunity that reauthorization requires. And related to that directly is my concern about ways that we can work with you to break down the continuing artificial barriers between trucking, rail, highway passenger car, mass transit, air, and I have to say bicycles for Mr. Oberstar's benefit. Sometimes the most efficient capacity generating solution may well be outside these silos that we continue to set up.
I wonder if you would care to share any observations about how we prepare for the next TEA, and if there are ways that we might work together to make these silos less rigid so we can provide better service for our mutual constituents.
Secretary MINETA. First of all, there are some elements within the Department that have started to look at 2003. I personally have not yet in terms of the reauthorization process. But it is starting within the Department where they are starting to think about what do we have to look at in 2003. So as those thoughts come up, we will be working with the Committee on what direction we ought to be taking.
The other part of it is just within our own Department. I am not sure that you were here when I was talking about the need to reorganize the Department, just from a policy perspective given the modes that we have, that, as you say, represent the silo approach. To me, there is not enough interaction among the modes within the Department. So I want to deal with some reorganization within the Department on trying to obtain more cross-pollination between the modes, so that as we are looking at a given problem, we are not looking at it from just a particular mode perspective, but by bringing various elements of different modes into a solution. It is tough to do but it is something I think that needs to be done. It was Congressman Rahall I believe who said, we have got to be smarter at what we do.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BLUMENAUER. I would hope, if the opportunity arises, as you and the Department prepare for reauthorization, and as members of this Committee are looking at these seemingly intractable problems at times, if there are ways that we can help on the legislative side to give you the flexibility so that it is not just rearranging administratively, you will call on us. As you know perhaps better than any Secretary before you, because of your experience in local government, as a member of this Committee, and in the private sector, that it is really the funding that oftentimes determines the outcome. And if we can with a few percentage points shift, for instance, funding in a corridor between Portland and Seattle, upgrade passenger rail that will buy us a 10 percent capacity increase at the airport, buy us more road capacity for passengers and freight, and improve air quality, even if it does not fit in the box precisely, I know that there are people on both sides of the aisle that would be keenly interested in working with you if we can provide the legislative muscle to realize your vision.
Secretary MINETA. The problem that I find in the Department is that most of the funds are either earmarked in the appropriations process, or the funds are distributed by formula to State and local government.
Mr. MICA. Thank the gentleman.
I now recognize the gentleman from California, Mr. Honda.
Mr. HONDA. Thank you, Mr. Chair, Mr. Oberstar. I am very pleased to have the Secretary here today. We have a long personal relationship and history. I have to tell you, Mr. Secretary, that sitting here listening to the responses to questions, the variety of questions that you are responding to is immense. It is almost like asking you, ''So how do you feel about peace?'' I am really beginning to understand the depth and the breadth of your expertise and also your memory.
I also want to acknowledge that you have been the mayor of our city of San Jose, so you recognize a lot of the challenges that we have in our valley. And though our Bay Area delegation we are committed to addressing the issue of congestion. I think Mr. Kirk called his roads Half Day Roads and then Full Day Roads, we used to call them rush hours and now it is 24/7. But that has also been a symptom of our success in our valley.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It seems that our discussion around transportation and congestion in conjunction with the environment is critical. And I have heard it reflected here that we are not willing to give up our responsibility to the environment as we address congestion, and I support that sentiment.
The question I had, and it is something that you have had leadership in in our valley, and that is looking at different types of projects related to transit. One of the questions I had was, this transit-based development that offers housing and retail opportunities near transit corridors, in your opinion, does the Federal Government have a role in promoting transit-oriented development? And does transit-oriented development constitute a meaningful approach to mitigating congestion?
The second question I would have would be related to congestion but congestion as a symptom more than anything else. As I am sitting here listening to the questions and the responses, it seems like congestion, whether it is air, or land, or waterways, that it is the middle piece between where people are living and going some place or coming back from some place, or transporting goods from one place to another.
So in the concept I guess surrounding congestion: First, are there other roles that we can play in mitigating congestion, such as land-use planning, looking at other priorities and practices on land use? The application of high tech, you mentioned there is greater high tech in the cockpit rather than in air traffic control systems. Should we be looking at further funding in research and applying technology at the ground level? And then I guess the other would be work schedules. Are there ways that we can influence work schedules so that it does mitigate congestion? I would appreciate any response on that, and I appreciate also your being here, Mr. Mineta.
Secretary MINETA. Did I ever tell you about the time I appointed him to the planning commission?
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
Mr. HONDA. I was wondering whether you were going to bring that up or not.
Secretary MINETA. Mr. Honda, as you know, the whole issue of land-use planning and transportation are inextricably tied together. We have never used that as a very good tool in terms of what happens because traditionally land-use planning has always been: you live here, you work here, you shop here, and all we did was to increase the problems that we are now saddled with, from things we did 30 years ago. So the question is about how we uncouple from that approach. It basically requires people changing their habits. And that is the toughest thing to do. And how do we get people to value that being in transit on let's say a bus or subway is more efficient for them than the convenience of an automobile. When you think about gasoline, the insurance, everything else, people do not think about it in terms of cost to them.
So I do not know how you do this except that we have to keep trying various methods. And the answer in San Jose is not going to be applicable in Los Angeles, nor in Ohio, nor in Florida. And so these things have to really be tailored from the locality itself.
I think of the Department of Transportation as being the facilitator in terms of making something happen. But the development of that effort has to start at the local level. Maybe what Mr. Mascara is saying what we ought to be doing is to innovate the larger share of the local monies that are put into a project, maybe we ought to be more sympathetic to it, for example. But it is the kind of question that, given the monies we have, with a whole ton of new starts, do I go down the road he suggests, or do I say given this money, we can really help out more communities across the country by getting away maybe from that 80-20 ratio generally. You know, APTA hears that and they will say ''The nut is off his rocker.'' But I have got a fire hose in my hand, where do I apply it? And is it because of the congestion problems there, is it because of the fact that Southwest Pennsylvania did not get carried along in this economic growth that we have experienced in the last 8 to 10 years--those are public policy questions that we all talk about on a daily basis. It is just that I am in an administrative position where I maybe can help direct that fire hose.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. HONDA. Mr. Chair, just a comment. I think what I am hearing also is that there are other levels of government and other organizations that we can partner with so that we are not the only ones trying to solve the local problems. I appreciate the response, and I appreciate the leadership that the Chair and the Ranking Member has provided, and I also appreciate this position in this room. They say that all good things come for those who wait, and I have waited all this time and I understand now the purpose of this seat and I learned a lot because I listened and I waited. Thank you, Secretary Mineta.
Mr. MICA. Thank you. Before you know it, you will be in the top row.
Let me recognize the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Johnson.
Mr. JOHNSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, forgive my attendance. Between three simultaneous Committees, and the Vice President, and the floor votes, I apologize for not being here the whole time. This question I know was briefly touched on earlier by Congressman Duncan before one of our votes, but let me just revisit it real quickly with you.
As I am sure you are aware, there is substantial congestion in the Upper Mississippi River, the Illinois River waterway system. I guess there are two, more than two, but at least two elements of thought. The Farm Bureau, Corn Growers, and others have supported modernization of that waterway since, well, the waterway is at least 70 years old, and the equivalency of carrying the freight would be I think they estimate 1 million railcars or 4 million trucks. Then, obviously, there are those who believe to the contrary, that waterway transportation, because of environmental concerns, may be passe. Those are divergent arguments. But in any event, putting aside my own personal feelings on that fundamental question, what role do you as the Secretary see that inland waterway transportation plays in our whole transportation network now, for the immediate future, and then for the long-run future?
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary MINETA. First of all, it plays a very vital role. And I think for the future it ought to be playing a bigger role. The problem that was earlier alluded to is with some of those locks on the Mississippi being as old as they are. It is going to require a lot of money to rehabilitate them. And because I just met recently with the Waterway Association, also in meeting with the American Association of Port Authorities, that is why I mentioned earlier something that I have just dubbed SEA-21, where we have had AIR-21, TEA-21, and I think in terms of doing something to promote marine transportation systems, inland ports, inland waterways, whatever, that I want to take a look at some formulation of a program relating to a waterways. It seems to me that waterways are probably most suited to bulk cargoes, that waterways are a very efficient way of carrying those products and we ought to be expanding the possibility of doing that.
Mr. JOHNSON. I appreciate your response, and I am sure all of us appreciate the outstanding job you are doing as well.
Secretary MINETA. Thank you, sir.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Borski, you are recognized at this time. And then, Mr. Isakson, if you have questions, we will catch you next.
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, last week I think it was we had a hearing in the Highway and Transit Subcommittee about congestion. And Mr. Anthony Downes, a Senior Fellow from the Brookings Institute, basically said there is nothing we can do about it. Get used to it. Get yourself a nice comfortable care with a good air conditioner, a nice stereo system, and maybe a fax, and just get used to being in traffic. I do not accept that, and, hopefully, you do not either. Certainly, in your statement you talked about a number of things we could be doing.
I want to focus for a second if I could on transit. Transit usage, as you well know, is up appreciably, higher than highway use and probably to its highest level in history. New starts, we have more new starts than we have the money to pay for them. One of the things I am interested in is the CMAQ program. We give a lot of credit around here to TEA-21, as we should, but I think ISTEA was even more important or as important because of the flexibility it gave us. There is, however, close to $3 billion sitting in the CMAQ accounts throughout the States. With the lack of money, if you will, or we certainly do not have enough money for transit programs, perhaps we could encourage you to be out there jawboning and talking to the States about using this CMAQ funding in a quicker fashion. The States seem to be able to spend their highway and surface transportation dollars quickly. CMAQ seems to lag behind a little bit.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, again, I would encourage you to use your good offices to jawbone the States to talk about that possibility. It exists in current law, there is almost $3 billion sitting there, and using CMAQ funding for transit seems to me to be one of the places we can be looking to improve that congestion problem that we all have.
Secretary MINETA. I did not know that there was $3 billion sitting there. But let me take a look at that.
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman.
Let me recognize now the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Isakson.
Mr. ISAKSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, first of all, I have had the luxury of coming in and out three times and I apologize because I know you have been sitting there the whole time. I also guess I apologize that I have got two questions, both of which probably have a little controversy to them, but they are ones that I am having to answer, so I would love your guidance.
As you know, Hearts Field in Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world. You also know we currently have an issue with Delta Airlines from a standpoint of labor and management, the pilots and the Airline, and we are getting close to some drop dead dates. I am getting a lot of mail, a lot of questions over collective bargaining versus public convenience and I would like your input, if you will.
If we have a critical issue of a strike at a major hub like Atlanta, whether it were Delta, or American in Dallas, or USAir in Pittsburgh, it has a chain reaction given the hub and spoke throughout the United States economy. The Administration would have the opportunity to keep the airplanes flying if it saw fit to do so. Where in your mind does that line cross between the interest and the vitality of the economy and the labor/management dispute itself in terms of whether a strike goes forward or whether you keep everybody at the bargaining table and keep the planes in the air?
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary MINETA. I think, first of all, the President has spoken out very strongly on this, that he does not want to have any strikes, and, secondly, he does not want to have any diminution in terms of economic effects. And so, to that extent, the Railway Labor Act is going to be utilized in all of its measure. On the other hand, I do not believe that anyone wants to shortcut the process that is there. So, to the extent that the process is going to be allowed to move along, and again from the perspective of making sure that there are no strikes, there are time deadlines in the law for when the President can take action or the National Mediation Board can, so we will follow that. I am watching that on a daily basis. I have been in touch with the airlines that are involved as well as with the labor unions that are involved.
Mr. ISAKSON. And it is fair to say that even though it might be one airline and one union, its ripple effects really affect the entire air service of the country if one were to go out; is that not correct?
Secretary MINETA. It does. It will have its ripple effect. But I think the President has said he does not want to have any strikes.
Mr. ISAKSON. My second question, sir, deals particularly with metropolitan Atlanta. And I am very grateful to the previous leadership at DOT to help us through our difficulties and ultimately approve our transit plan, our TIP, and the EPA also for ultimately approving the plan of containment. We still are in a difficult situation, however, because of law suits with different groups not liking the plan on clean air issues and alternative transportation issues and others. And we are at gridlock in metropolitan Atlanta on highways, and I know you are aware of that, probably more so than anybody else in the room.
My question is, however, has there ever been an alternative to court; and by that, such a thing as binding arbitration or some third party expedited ruling when there remain differences after the Government has, in fact, approved both the plan of containment and the transportation plan? I am not trying to circumvent people's right to go to court, I would never do that. But there are times and points where the resolution of the situation could probably be handled far better in some kind of third party arbitration over a narrow issue in a comprehensive plan. I do not know if I am making myself clear. But I am just wondering if DOT or EPA, or collectively, ever thought of such a mechanism in the event of protracted litigation under any of the environmental laws that still kept improvements, whether they be transit or roads, from going in?
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary MINETA. I think without the authority of law providing something like that, I doubt if it would be utilized. In other words, we would not be able to impose that administratively as a procedure because people are going to turn to the courts anyway. So unless it were law, I do not think there is any way that we would be able to set up a process by which we would set up an arbitration panel for people to come to us, because one party will say ''I don't have to observe that'' and not go, and instead say ''I am going to go to court.''
I think it would require legislative action for that kind of a panel to exist in these kinds of circumstances. As you say, maybe it can be prescribed in terms of what kinds of things would go to that kind of a panel. It would not preclude anybody, in the final analysis probably, from still going to the courts.
Mr. ISAKSON. You could not, in the final analysis. But, hopefully, some trigger so you could possibly expedite a resolution outside of the courts would be preferable. You have been great and patient with your time. My time is up. I want to thank you very much for all the work you are doing. We are proud to have you as Secretary.
Secretary MINETA. Thank you very much.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman.
I now recognize for some wrap-up questions the Ranking Member, Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, you have conducted a seminar for us here today and we congratulate you on your performance, which is what we expect of you. As I said, you are not a trainee; you are first one in the position who does not have to learn from the bottom up.
I just want to run through a few things, and you may want to comment at the end.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First, I applaud your initiative for an Assistant Secretary for Intermodalism. I introduced legislation about 15 years ago to create the Office of Intermodalism. It was opposed by the then Administration. But when I asked Secretary Pena who was the intermodalist in the Department, he said, ''I am.'' I said, ''That is what worries me.'' A Secretary cannot be the intermodalist. You have got to look over the whole thing. You cannot do that yourself. You need someone to do that. And so I applaud your initiative.
Your comment that the President does not want to have any strikes, in response to Mr. Isakson's questions; if that had been the policy 12 years ago, Eastern Airlines might still be in operation.
I raised the issue a year and a-half or so ago, almost two years ago that the FAA and the airlines should coordinate and integrate and standardize their weather technology. That has apparently been done. Airlines considered that their weather systems and databases were superior to those of the FAA, which was probably in question, in some cases it might have been all right. But FAA was, in fact, and continues to use the National Weather Service reporting system.
The command center is now coordinating the sharing of weather information from all sources. Administrator Garvey has told this Committee that she is on a conference call at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning every day on weather to assure that all partnersthe FAA, the airlines, the National Weather Serviceare using the same data for weather throughout the country on all flights. That ought to give some comfort that we are at least operating from the same database.
And I appreciate the spirit in which you said maybe we were too cautious. But you and I know from experience that FAA and DOT will stop being too cautious the first time there is an accident. I do not think with weather you can be too cautious. The hole that may open up in a weather system or in a storm cell may close within minutes from the time it opens up. And some jockeys may think they can get through that hole. But I would just as soon not be on that plane when they are trying.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think that the redundancy that we have built into the air traffic control system is critical for safety. And if we are going to err, we should err on the side of safety. And if that means some delays in the system, then, folks, just read the weather reports and decide to either go by ground or not to go at all, but be accepting of delays.
I will never forget a flight just last summer that I was on where the folks sitting around me were grumbling and mumbling and screaming let's take off. Finally, the aircraft got the clearance and the pilot announced we were going to climb through some turbulence, and they sure as hell did. Glasses were bouncing off; I have never seen a flight like that. And at the time that the turbulence happened, the passengers were saying let's put this plane on the ground, and I said I don't think you want to do that right now, you want to climb through this thing. So the caution with weather is really I think the better part of wisdom.
On delays. FAA measures delay by time in the air traffic control system from the time the pilot releases the brake at the gate to back the aircraft out. Airlines report actual arrival time compared to scheduled time. DOT measures arrival time, only taking the airline data. FAA would not count as delay, for example, the failure of an airline to have an aircraft at the gate. It means that flight is going to be substantially delayed, but not in FAA numbers. FAA measures only the time that the substitute aircraft pushes back and is in the air traffic control system, from the time the brake is released at departure to the time the brake is applied at arrival at the next gate. So understanding all these differences I think is an important element of understanding congestion in the air traffic control system.
I would like to come back to the freight rail financing program. I was one of those who wrote that language in TEA-21, and Chairman Shuster participating with us. In conformity with TEA-21, it was our intention that all authority already exists, that all DOT needs to do is to approve pending applications. There are some 19 such applications and I would hope that those could start moving forward. Delay is not on your watch, but it is now in your hands. And if you can move those ahead, I think we can begin to address some of the congestion problems in our freight rail system because a good many of those applications are for building additional rail to two track lines that now require freight trains to pull off onto sidings so that other freight or AMTRAK service can pass by. That is a way of dealing with the congestion.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now another issue is earmarking of airport projects. I am just furious at the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for earmarking airport projects. During your Chairmanship, during mine of that Subcommittee, and during Mr. Shuster's Chairmanship of the full Committee, we vigorously opposed those earmarkings.
Aviation is unlike the highway system. If you improve a highway on the East Coast, it does not affect traffic on the West Coast. But if you improve an airport on the West Coast, it improves air traffic on the East Coast. Aviation is an integrated system and we cannot have this substitution of little piddling tinkerings with individual airport projects.
I hope that you will use your position to object to and resist the earmarking, although I know that is done at some risk because those appropriators have a way of attacking the Office of the Secretary through the appropriations process. But I think you will gain in stature with the air travelling public by saying no to these individual tinkerings. That is why we have authority in the FAA program for the Secretary to make those decisions about capacity enhancing projects. And if you are deprived of that authority, then we are just going to see continuing gridlock in the system.
I would hope that you would move ahead with the DOT recommendations on high speed rail corridors. I think that is essential to relieving congestion in those 300-mile or less radii from congested hubs, particularly in the midwest. As I said, we can create some 15 percent additional capacity at O'Hare by taking some of that short-haul traffic out with a high speed rail system. Not this year, not next year, but if we do not start now, it will not get done for 20 years or more.
A few other items. The National Academy of Sciences' study on congestion management in the inland waterway system raises important issues that I want to signal to your attention. I would simply ask you to take cognizance of it and to do so in the context of proceeding with the Maritime Transportation System report done by the Department. As has been noted by a few of our colleagues, there is congestion in our ports, our inland waterways. If we are going to move goods more efficiently and at lowest cost, then we have got to address those maritime transportation issues.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We should not ever allow ourselves to be like Algeciras that this Committee visited two years ago, where they have a marvelous deep water port, a splendid container off-loading system, but once it is on the ground it has no where to go; there is no rail, there is no highway. They cannot move the goods in the internal transportation system in Spain. And if we become gridlocked to that extent, and you rightly noted the 12,000 TEU vessels that are now on the drawing boards that are soon to be under construction, if are not capable of handling those vessels, then we are not in the world trading system.
That is all, Mr. Chairman. Not all, but that is all for the moment.
Mr. MICA. Welcome back, Mr. Mineta.
Mr. MICA. I thank the Ranking Member. And with the concurrence of both sides of the aisle, we will, without objection, leave the record open for a period of 30 days. We may be submitting additional questions for response, with your cooperation.
Secretary MINETA. And I will respond for the record, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MICA. On behalf of Chairman Young, we want to thank you for being with us. The entire Committee appreciates both your patience and your leadership. We look forward to working together with you in the challenges we face.
There being no further business before the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, this meeting is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 2:25 p.m., the committee was adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.]