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Bush signs transportation bill to Olson’s delight


President George W. Bush signed the Transportation Equity Act, at the Caterpillar facility in Montgomery, Ill., Wednesday, Aug. 10, the bill touched many areas including Farragut.

“… I’m here to sign the highway bill because I believe by signing this bill, when it’s fully implemented, there’s going to be more demand for the machines you make here. And because there’s more demand for the machines you make here, there’s going to be more jobs created around places like this facility. So thanks for letting us come.


“This road system that we have is going to be modernized through the Transportation Equity Act. It provides more than $286 billion over six years to upgrade our nation’s network of roads and bridges and mass transit systems. The Transportation Act will finance needed road improvements, and will ease traffic congestion in communities all across this country.

“This bill is going to help modernize the highway system and improve quality of life for a lot of people. And these projects will require workers. Highways just don’t happen; people have got to show up and do the work to refit a highway or build a bridge. And they need new equipment to do so. So the bill I’m signing is going to help give hundreds of thousands of Americans good paying jobs.

“This bill upgrades our transportation infrastructure, and it will help save lives. The bill establishes a safety belt incentive grant program, which will provide incentives for states to adopt laws that increase seat belt usage. Under this bill, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will set stability standards to help prevent vehicle rollovers.

“In other words, this is more than just a highway bill; it’s a safety bill. The American people expect us to provide them with the safest possible transportation system, and this bill helps fulfill that obligation. This law makes our highways and mass transit systems safer and better, and it will help more people find work. And it accomplishes goals in a fiscally responsible way. We are not raising gasoline taxes in order to pay for this bill.

“The United States Congress can be proud of what it has achieved in the Transportation Equity Act, and I’m proud to be right here in Denny Hastert’s district to sign it.”

Days earlier in Washington, D.C., U.S. Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr., (R-Tenn.) announced final House passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) highway bill conference report, which includes significant funding for Tennessee highway, transit and safety programs.

“I am pleased that Congress has passed this legislation funding important transportation initiatives, and I thank Senators Frist and Alexander for their tireless work on behalf of our state. This bill will create thousands of jobs across East Tennessee while addressing some of our region’s most serious transportation needs and ensuring the state gets a better deal when federal highway dollars are distributed,” Duncan said. As a senior member of the House Transportation Committee and a conferee, Duncan directed $65.5 million to the Second District’s priority projects in addition to the $54.6 million targeted to the area by the Senate.

Farragut town administrator Dan Olson said, “I’m very happy that the bill passed.” Adding the funding from the bill would be the federal government’s portion of an 80/20 split between it and the town of Farragut to improve Campbell Station Road from Jamestown Boulevard to Grigsby Chapel Road.

Olson said estimates for the road improvement were made prior to the recent rise in fuel prices.

“The cost of the project could be higher because of increased fuel and asphalt prices,” Olson said.

Funds allocated by the bill for improvements to the railroad underpass at Boyd Station and Harvey roads, though not in the town of Farragut, would cover costs of engineering a replacement structure to the narrow two-lane obstacle.

Knox County would oversee the project.

“After a long and hard fought process, I’m pleased that we’ve been able to secure a highway bill that funds Tennessee’s transportation priorities,” Frist said. “This legislation supports critical infrastructure projects and will spur economic development in the Second District. As majority leader, I’m committed to bringing this bill to the floor quickly so we can get it to the President for his signature. I want to thank Senator Alexander and Congressman Duncan for all of their hard work on behalf of Tennesseans.” As senate majority leader, Frist secured more than $200 million for Tennessee transportation projects.

“Better roads mean better jobs. This bill provides funding to improve our interstates, highways and transportation infrastructure, which are critical to economic development in the Second District and across the state,” Alexander said. “I will continue to work with Senator Frist and Congressman Duncan to make sure Tennessee communities receive the federal assistance they need to grow and prosper.”

The legislation ensures that the State of Tennessee will receive a 26.71 percent increase in its highway formula funding over TEA-21 enacted levels. On average, Tennessee will receive an extra $168 million each year. Tennessee’s rate of return for federal highway formula funding will increase from 90.5 percent to 91.5 percent in FY07 and to 92 percent in FY08.

The transit title of the highway reauthorization bill provides funding for a number of vital urban and rural transit programs and specific transit related projects. Overall, the State of Tennessee’s transit formula apportionment will increase 164 percent over the previously enacted highway reauthorization bill. Tennessee will receive $216.7 million from FY2006 through FY2009. In addition, the state will receive $50.6 million for specific transit projects across the state.

Second District funding in the Farragut area in the highway bill conference report includes:

$1.44 million to widen Campbell Station Road in Knoxville; $395,440 to construct an underpass at Boyd Station, Harvey and McFee roads in Knoxville.

 

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