Statement by Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell
EPW Hearing to examine lessons learned from TEA-21 and
Perspectives on Reauthorization from the Federal, State and Local Level
Mr. Chairman, Senator Smith, I would like to thank you for scheduling this important hearing. I would also like to welcome these distinguished panels and thank them for taking the time meeting with us today.
As we begin this new year, the country faces many challenges. Among these includes the transportation crisis in this country.
Each year, traffic congestion costs the United States billions of dollars. As Mayor Coles will discuss in his testimony, the Western United States is booming. However, along with growth and progress come growing pains that many states have been dealing with for many years.
The passage of Transportation Equity Act for the 21 st Century (TEA-21) in 1998 has helped solve many of the transportation problems across the country. The overall total funding in TEA-21 represents a 40 percent increase over the previous authorization Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), which was enacted in 1991. Under TEA-21 Colorado saw a 52 percent increase over the state's ISTEA distribution. With the federal funds that were authorized in TEA-21 by this Committee and appropriated by the Senate Appropriations Committee, upon which I also serve, the Colorado Department of Transportation has moved from a $200 million annual budget to more than a $300 million annual budget.
This higher level of funding has allowed COOT to move forward with transportation projects that would not have been able to be completed without TEA-21. In fact, the COOT has been able to take advantage of innovative financing techniques, which were also authorized by this Committee, to allow them to accelerate many projects.
For example, the federal Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) Program has allowed COOT to accelerate 28 key Strategic Projects statewide. Many of the projects would have taken 50 years to complete. What the federal program has allowed COOT to do is accelerate completion of those projects to under 10 years, a substantial cost savings.
However, recent budget projections predict a $4.9 billion shortfall from what was originally predicted in the FY2003 budget and over $9 billion less than what was allocated in the FY2002 budget. This budget shortfall will be a challenge to all of us as we move forward on this first step to re-authorization.
I look forward to working with this committee on a wide range of priority topics over the course of the year and welcome input from all levels of government, system users and private industry.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.