1. Infrastructure Needs. There are mounting highway infrastructure needs in rural and urban areas and in new growth areas, including increasing border infrastructure requirements. Investments for the future are needed in both the physical infrastructure as well as the communications infrastructure that must be overlaid across today's roadways. Both types of investment are important for safety and both are covered in our reauthorization proposal. In addition to targeted safety programs, our proposed 40 percent increase in the National Highway System (NHS), Interstate maintenance, and Surface Transportation Program authorizations clearly have significant safety benefits.
2. Infrastructure Safety Program. We propose a new stand alone infrastructure safety program that is funded at a higher level over the life of NEXTEA than compared to ISTEA, is more flexible, and has been simplified from today's Surface Transportation Program set aside. The hazard elimination component provides funding for any public road off the Interstate the roads which account for 9110 fatal crashes---to address such needed measures as guard rails, pavement markings, breakaway signs and geometric improvements. The rail grade crossing component has also increased over today's level and has increased flexibility than today's program.
3. Motor Carriers. We have made great gains in Motor Carrier Safety--from 1985 to 1995 fatalities in large truck crashes decreased 12 percent and the fatality rate declined 35 percent. We need to continue to advance our gains and we propose an increase in funding for motor carrier program to $100M per year-- $83M for Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) grants, which will become completely performance based by the end of the authorization period. A portion of the MCSAP grants will help fund priorities such as border enforcement. We propose $17M for grants, cooperative agreements, and Federal activities in safety information systems, including the comprehensive Commercial Vehicle Information Systems (CVIS), data analysis and program analysis---all directed toward achieving en handed safety performance. This is the "heart" of our enforcement program because it provides the information and analysis we use to target the highest risk performers and to identify safety problems.
4. Flexibility and Incentives. Our proposal has several safety features that offer more flexibility and incentives to the States:
a) a new $50M/year Integrated Safety Fund available to States with a comprehensive safety planning process---Funds can be used to enhance the MCSAP grants, the National Highway Safety Trnnsportation Administration (NHTSA) Section 402 program funds, contained in the NHTSA budget or the Safety Infrastructure Program.
b) Expanded Surface Transportation Program (STP) eligibility for motor carrier or section 4021 project use.
c) The Safety Hazard Elimination funds can be used for Section 402 or MCSAP if a State has a good integrated Safety Planning Process.
d) The Rail Grade Crossing Program targets funding to where the crossing problems are and provides for expanded eligibilities, such as education and enforcement to deal with non- compliance with active crossing devices.
5. Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). Our proposal calls for both increased funding for research and development as well as a new $100M/year deployment incentive program. This will enable us to advance the Intelligent Vehicle Initiative -- a safety oriented effort focusing on such activities as collision avoidance systems; and, to advance the deployment of safety ITS uses such as rural MAYDAY Systems, weather related information systems, integration of urban incident management and emergency service systems with congestion management systems, linking safety and inspection strategies into Commercial Vehicle Information Systems, and addressing border safety issues.
Thank you Mr. Chairman. We are ready for any questions today and offer our services for technical assistance as the legislative process unfolds this year.