U.S. Sens. Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Rep. Bill Jenkins (R-TN) today announced 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.
“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,” said Frist. “This legislation supports critical infrastructure projects and will spur economic development in the 1st 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 Jenkins 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 1st District and across the state,” said Alexander. “I will continue to work with Senator Frist and Congressman Jenkins to make sure Tennessee communities receive the federal assistance they need to grow and prosper.”
“I am pleased that the long wait will soon be over, and that we will have a new highway reauthorization bill that will allow us to continue to address critical transportation infrastructure needs in this country,” Jenkins said. “In addition, there are a number of vitally important projects in East Tennessee that have been specifically mentioned in this legislation that will receive federal funding as well as new funding formulas that will ensure that Tennesseans will receive a greater return on the federal taxes they pay for our transportation needs.”
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 $44.4 million for specific transit projects across the state.
The Northeast Tennessee funding in the highway bill conference report includes:
•$12 million for Tennessee statewide bus replacement and implementing Intelligent Transportation Systems.
•$5.8 million for construction on state Route 32/U.S. 321 from state Route 73 at Wilton Springs Road to Interstate 40 in Cocke County.
•$3.1 million to widen state Route 75 in Sullivan and Washington counties.
•$2.9 million for construction on Knob Creek Road in Washington County.
•$2.4 million to widen state Route 66 in Sevier County.
•$1.8 million to construct a visitor interpretative center at the Gray Fossil Site in Gray.
•$1.6 million to relocate state Route 66 in Jefferson and Hamblen counties.
•$1.4 million to widen state Route 35 and U.S. 411 in Sevier, Jefferson and Cocke counties.
•$1 million to provide for access road improvements for a regional hospital in Morristown.
•$1 million to provide for an access road from the James H. Quillen Veterans Administration Medical Center to U.S. 11E in Mountain Home.
•$1 million to widen state Route 66 in Sevier County.
•$1 million for Bus Rapid Transit in Sevier County.
•$1 million to purchase alternative fuel buses in Sevierville.
•$800,000 to improve the U.S. 25E interchange in Hamblen County.
•$800,000 to widen state Route 36 in Washington County.
•$800,000 to extend state Route 449 in Sevier County.
•$800,000 to reconstruct state Route 31 in Hawkins County.
•$800,000 to construct an Elizabethton connector in Carter County.
•$500,000 to provide for a trails system in Johnson County.
•$500,000 to construct trails and recreational facilities at the Warriors Path State Park in Kingsport.
•$500,000 million to improve streetscape and pavement repair in Carter County.
•$400,000 to reconstruct state Route 362 in Carter County.
•$80,000 to improve the railroad crossing on Hazelwood Street in Bristol.
•$80,000 to improve the highway railroad crossing grade in Bristol.
•$40,000 to improve the highway railroad crossing on Cedar Street in Bristol.
The conference report is expected to be approved by the Senate prior to the August recess and will then go to President Bush for his signature.