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'Get it done now': Government, association leaders urge Congress to pass TEA-21 reauthorization bill


Last week, local and state government leaders held a news conference to urge legislators to adopt a multi-year transportation reauthorization bill by June 30.

Themed "Get it Done Now," the conference included presentations by officials from the American Public Transportation Association National League of Cities (NLC), National Association of Counties and American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, which represent the four major owners and operators of the country’s surface transportation systems.

Officials stressed that 21 months have elapsed since the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century expired in September 2003. Congress has since authorized seven extensions, the latest of which expires June 30.

The reauthorization bill is critical to the success of public transportation systems, said Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission Executive Director and APTA representative Alfred Harf.

"[Public transportation] gets people to jobs, attracts business developments, alleviates traffic congestion, conserves energy and reduces pollution," he said.

The delay in approving a reauthorization bill is slowing projects — including those for transit rail — and increasing construction costs, officials said.

"As the projects take longer to complete, the cost of construction rises," said Joseph Donaldson, Flagstaff, Ariz., mayor and chair of NLC’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Services Committee at the conference. "We cannot get already-approved transportation projects under way for the same dollars we could have two years ago."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/20/2005