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5/14/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

'SAFETEA': Bush Administration releases $247 billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal


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The Bush Administration today presented what it terms a "key blueprint investment" for U.S. transportation, unveiling the largest surface and public transportation investment in United States history. The Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003 (SAFETEA) is a six-year, $247 billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal.



The proposal serves as a framework for investments needed to maintain and increase the nation’s transportation infrastructure.



"The proposal I have submitted to Congress is more than a simple spending plan — it is a key blueprint for investment," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta in a prepared statement. "SAFETEA, when enacted by Congress, will help ensure transportation projects are completed on budget and on time, while protecting the environment."



The proposal would increase freight efficiency by establishing a National Highway System to fund highway connections to intermodal freight facilities. SAFETEA would continue the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Program, lowering the program’s project threshold from $100 million to $50 million, and expanding it by enabling freight projects to qualify for credit assistance.



SAFETEA also would create a new category of tax-exempt private activity bonds to finance freight transfer facilities.



The proposal would streamline program requirements and restructure Federal transit Administration programs into three areas: Urbanized Area Formula Grants, Major Capital Investments and State-Administered Programs.



The environmental review process also would be streamlined by improving links between transportation planning and project development processes, and strengthening provisions that establish time frames for agencies to conduct environmental reviews and make decisions on permits, administration officials said.


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