STATEMENT BY SENATOR JOHN WARNER SUBCOMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS MARCH 6, 1997

Today the Subcommittee welcomes Deputy Secretary Downey and our other witnesses to receive testimony on Intelligent Transportation System technologies, innovative financing methods, including State Infrastructure Banks and the Department's research activities.

Each of these programs is important to fostering a national transportation system.

Each has received significant financial support from the Highway Trust Fund, combining for over $3.5 billion under ISTEA.

And, each will be important as we work to continue a national program that responds to growing needs with limited resources.

Intelligent Transportation Systems have received in excess of $1.3 billion under ISTEA. These investments have been critical to improving the safety of our highways and to relieving congestion on our most heavily traveled roads.

We must be sure, however, that our investment in new transportation technologies can be readily integrated by our state partners into the existing transportation infrastructure. I welcome the comments of our witnesses today as we seek solutions to improving the deployment of these technologies.

Innovative financing methods also hold great promise for maximizing the use of limited transportation dollars and for stimulating investments from the private sector.

I was pleased that the National Highway System took further steps to promote innovative financing through the establishment of a pilot State Infrastructure Bank program, credit enhancements and incentives for advanced construction.

I view these financing mechanisms as additional tools for use by our state partners. We should proceed with caution, however, on providing direct funding for SIBs or a new Federal Credit program until we have adequate information that all states will effectively use these tools.

The Administration's early description of their reauthorization proposal indicates that there may be specific funding to expand State Infrastructure Banks and to establish a new Federal Credit program.

Over the new reauthorization period, these funds could total $2 billion - a significant amount of Trust Fund dollars that are not distributed to states and local governments under a formula program.

Before we take this step, we must be sure that all states can benefit from these programs.

Certainly, more urban states with severe congestion problems can identify projects that will produce revenues to make these projects attractive to the private sector, SIBs, or for the new Federal Credit program.

I have some reservations, however, that our rural states with important transportation needs, do not have similar projects that can generate the revenues necessary for these types of projects.

At this time, however, I welcome the views of our witnesses today and hope that ITS technologies, our research efforts and new financing approaches will have applications for all regions of our nation.