The U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled Wednesday the Bush Administration's six-year $247 billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal, SAFETEA.
The Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003 (SAFETEA) serves as the largest surface and public transportation investment in U.S. history.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta said that once enacted, SAFETEA would help modernize federal safety programs, create jobs and sustain economic growth, reduce congestion and minimize project delays.
Other benefits include: increased funding flexibility for states and localities, improved public transit efficiency and helping to protect the environment.
Citing the unacceptable costs of highway fatalities and injuries, 43,000 lives and $230.6 billion annually, Mineta said that saving lives would be the No. 1 priority for the department.
The proposal would create a new core-funding category dedicated to safety within the federal aid highway program to increase visibility and funding beyond the current safety set-aside provisions.
The administration's proposal also grants states broad new flexibility to transfer safety funds among the diverse safety programs administered by the department, provides increased funding for commercial vehicle safety and research programs and expands and improves safety auditing of "New Entrant" motor carriers.
SAFETEA continues the funding guarantees of TEA-21 that links highway funding with the receipts generated by transportation exise taxes; by redirecting the 2.5 cents per gallon of the gasohol tax currently deposited in the General Fund; and dedicates an additional $1 billion a year of Highway Trust Fund dollars over and above each year's estimated receipts to improve highway infrastructure performance and maintenance.
In all, environmental programs total $58.7 billion, one quarter of the $247 billion SAFETEA proposal.
The proposal would revise the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program, which it funds at $8.8 billion compared to $8.1 billion for TEA-21, to better address the new air quality standards.
For a complete listing of SAFETEA proposals, log on to www.fhwa.dot.gov/reauthorization/safetea.htm