TITLE>Statement of Bruce Woodbury, ISTEA, March 28, 1997
I appreciate the invitation to provide testimony. I would like to offer written testimony from Kurt Weinrich, our regional transportation commission director, if I might. I also have some handouts that we can distribute to you regarding our local master transportation plan.
Commissioner Gates has described for you the unprecedented growth that we have experienced in this community, and, Senator Reid, of course, you're very familiar with that. We are pressured to provide the infrastructure needed to keep pace with the needs of our citizens.
Two years ago we decided that the Federal and State dollars and the funding formula associated with our transportation plans at that time just were not capable of providing the program required to keep up. So to meet that challenge the county and the RTC knew it would have to exercise some leadership and develop a plan of its own.
In 1990 we placed before the voters a non-binding referendum called Question 10, a question support for a multi-modal master transportation plan. Our voters approved that by an overwhelming margin. This has produced what is now a $150 million per year revenue package paid for in improving our local roadways and public transportation services.
For the Question 10 fair share funding program everyone who benefits in one way or another from the transportation improvements also contributes a fair share of the costs. For example, the different funding programs involve jet aviation fuel tax, a tax on new development a motor vehicle privilege tax, hotel and motel room tax, sales tax, and, of course, motor vehicle fuel tax.
The master transportation plan, though, is a lot more than just a set of new taxes. It's really a regional attempt to address our growing transportation and related air quality needs. The plan brings together all transportation entities in southern Nevada; it ties together all of our road-related strategies and provides the means for constructing our infrastructure improvements.
It's quite clear that no single project in this program stands alone. Improvement of traffic capacity and air quality are dependent upon the implementation of the entire plan. This integrated approach has created a framework for the construction of a series of transportation projects that fall into various broad categories, and I'll just a few of those:
--major improvements to Interstate 15 where we have, of course, appreciated a good deal of Federal funding;
--resort corridor road capacity improvements where there has been a combination of some Federal funding to go along with our local funds;
--a new beltway around the Las Vegas Valley; increased traffic capacity and other local arterials;
--major expansion, as described by Commissioner Gates of our public transit system;
--congestion management by upgrade of our computerized signal system where, again, we've appreciated the Federal funding; and,
--multi-modal comprehensive planning using major investment studies.
In all of this we've had great cooperation and tremendous assistance from the Congress, especially Senator Reid and our Congressional delegation, and we truly appreciate that partnership.
I can recall just a few years ago when you, Senator Reid, chaired a transportation summit meeting, which really helped us focus our efforts in a coordinated and comprehensive way.
Following on that partnership philosophy, the county in cooperative relation with other local agencies, began construction of the southern leg of the beltway. This is the first part of a 50-mile beltway around the southern, western and northern parts of the Valley, costing well over $1 billion. Funding has been locally generated -- that's really a unique concept here in southern Nevada for a county, as opposed to the State, to undertake a freeway improvement project of that nature.
We have just completed approval of an acceleration plan where we will have a continuous functional beltway 10 years earlier and the complete beltway could be provided.
You mentioned earlier the computerized traffic signal system. It's one of the truly regionalized system of that nature in the western United States. It was formed in 1983, and it is currently undergoing an expansion utilizing state-of-the-art intelligent transportation technologies, and can be the core of our regional advanced transportation management system. Again, Federal funding has helped us to accomplish this.
In the spirit of multi-modalism major investment studies are currently underway in the resort corridor and along U.S. 95. The transportation improvements that have been discussed include a fixed guideway people mover system, transit enhancement and traditional highway improvements.
Approved as a locally preferred alternative for the fixed guideway system, it is estimated to cost over $1 billion. The RTC and local entities in the State are seeking Federal funds so that this critical project can proceed.
We have also developed a public-private partnership for a large number of projects that have been developed through a lot of private donations of right-of-way, as well as funding to go along with the State, local and Federal funds that we have obtained. These include new freeway interchanges, pedestrian bridges and tunnels at major intersections, and major arterials in the resort corridor area.
I want to just briefly mention a few of the four major issues and five super projects that the RTC and the county commission support for your immediate consideration.
A resolution passed at our March 18th meeting recommending that the projects proposed by the State of Nevada to the Congress for favorable consideration as a part of the reauthorization. A few of those projects are the widening of U.S. 95 in north west Las Vegas, I-15 widening, U.S. 93 Boulder City bypass, and we also have included four major issues to include in the ISTEA funding. They have a substantial impact in addressing our transportation needs. They include the U.S. 93 Hoover Dam bypass, transit improvements in Clark and Washoe County, including the fixed guideway system that I mentioned.
A unique thing for Nevada is the system interchange at I-15 and I-40 between Barstow and Victorville in the State of California, which impacts our community substantially.
Finally, let me just say that transportation issues are of tremendous importance in our community. We have taken steps to ensure that local and State governments has assumed as much responsibility as possible, and we hope that in assuming that responsibility that that is the approach that you are encouraging and acknowledging in the Federal funding determinations.
We support the spirit of ISTEA, as exemplified by all the initiatives that Senator Reid is well aware of here, and we respectfully ask for your consideration of these projects that we mentioned in the reauthorization legislation.