Sen. James Inhofe
ISTEA Reauthorization
May 7, 1997

Thank you Mr. Chairman, for holding this last of a series of hearings on the issues surrounding the reauthorization of ISTEA.

Safety is a very important part of our transportation policy. I do, however, have reservations about imposing penalties on states to coerce them into compliance with a federal mandate. Even though I recognize that some safety issues do transcend state lines, like the problem we have with people driving while intoxicated, I still am a proponent of the notion that states are usually the best suited to choose policies for the citizens that live there. Shaving away dollars from a State's highway funds for Interstate Maintenance does not necessarily trickle down to improving safety. We need to look at avenues that give states incentives to bring highway accidents and fatalities down voluntarily, but quickly and effectively.

Our National Highway System consists of over 160,000 miles and carries over 40% of all traffic - unfortunately almost 40% of these roads are not up to par. We cannot afford to continue to penalize highway users - both private and commercial - by compromising the conditions of our nation's highways by skimming funds. Don't get me wrong - I am very interested in preserving the lives and safety of this nation's highway users. But, we need to do that in an effective and uniformly safe manner, which in my opinion includes maintenance of the current roads. Oklahoma, like many other donor states, already has limited funds returned from the Trust Fund - we need to use that money wisely to protect our highway users - not be penalized.