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Huge transportation bill to be touted in the House


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Although its from the local paper-heres a story of a huge transportation bill to be up soon in the US House:

GOP leader touts $375 billion transportation bill

By Kevin Flynn, Rocky Mountain News

November 4, 2003

A ranking Republican in Congress urged Denver-area transportation leaders on Monday to support record federal spending on transportation projects over the next six years.

Rep. Tom Petri of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, believes so much that America needs to beef up its transportation system that he's been using that system to travel nationwide to lobby for his version of the bill.

The House bill, expected to be introduced this month, will call for a record $375 billion in highway and transit projects through 2009. That's substantially more than the $250 billion proposed by President Bush or the $310 billion being discussed in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Under the House version, Colorado would be in line for nearly $3.5 billion in federal aid over six years, up $1.26 billion from the previous period.

Petri said transportation is key to economic recovery, so every penny cut from improving highways and transit puts a new crimp in America's ability to bounce back.

"If we underinvest in transportation, we will not be saving any money," Petri told about 45 people gathered at Centennial Airport. "Rather, we will be spending our money in nonproductive ways."

The bill could involve an increase in the federal gas tax, now at 18.4 cents per gallon. It hasn't increased since 1993.

Because it is a per-gallon tax rather than a percentage rate, it loses to inflation every year.

Petri said the gas tax isn't the only possible tool, however. Technological advances could make it possible to raise revenue via tolls or other user fees. "That's clearly the wave of the future," he said.

Petri was in Denver at the behest of Rep. Bob Beauprez, an Arvada Republican and fellow member of the subcommittee.

During a five-hour bus tour of major air, rail, highway and transit projects in the area, Petri alternately answered questions from dozens of civic leaders and cajoled them to support his version of how much the nation needs to spend on highways and transit systems.

Congress reauthorizes transportation spending in six-year cycles.

The current bill expired Sept. 30, and without a new one in place, Congress instead adopted a five-month extension of the old one.

Rep. Mark Udall, a Boulder Democrat, joined Beauprez in what was billed as Colorado's "Rolling Roundtable on Transportation." They toured Front Range Airport, discussed a proposal to relocate regional rail freight lines to the east of metro Denver, drove the T-REX corridor, held a news conference at the construction site of the new Louisiana Avenue light rail station and visited Union Station, where the Regional Transportation District plans a hub of commuter trains, buses and other transit services.

Along for the tour were numerous county commissioners and mayors, including John Hickenlooper of Denver, Steve Burkholder of Lakewood, Ken Fellman of Arvada and Jan Pawlowski of Brighton.


Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper turns to a group of dignitaries during a tour Monday of area transportation projects. They are, from left, Colorado Congressmen Bob Beauprez and Mark Udall; Tom Petri, chairman of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Highways and Transit; and Cal Marsella, general manager of the Regional Transportation District.

Albert (Shoowaa)

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