Statement by Senator Bob Smith
Hearing on ISTEA reauthorization and general trends in transportation
February 13, 1997

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this first in a series of hearings on reauthorization of our major surface transportation law, otherwise known as ISTEA. I was a proud supporter of this legislation in 1991 and continue to support its goals today.

ISTEA represented a revolutionary change from past transportation legislation and a shift toward an integrated, intermodal transportation system to promote efficiency and economic growth. Some of its major provisions included: greater planning authority for state and local governments, increased research for innovative technologies such as intelligent vehicle highway systems, and funding for environmental protection activities.

A reauthorized ISTEA should continue to recognize regional differences, but at the same time, recognize that our transportation system is a national system. Certainly, every state wants to get its "fair share," and we will need to balance each state's needs with the needs of the nation as a whole.

While there is some merit to having various funding programs, we should refrain from creating any new funding categories or set- asides, and allow for maximum flexibility between the various programs. It is also important that we reduce or eliminate any onerous mandates or sanctions on the states.

From New Hampshire's perspective, it will be important to ensure that small states continue to receive adequate funding for their infrastructure needs. New Hampshire strongly supports certain programs, such as the Bridge Rehabilitation, Scenic Byway and Recreational Trail programs, that other states may not utilize as much. The strength of ISTEA is that it recognizes these varying needs and provides states with the flexibility to direct funding as they see appropriate.

There are many challenges before us as we take steps toward a balanced budget -- something I have fought long and hard for. Our needs will always outweigh our resources. But, we also have to recognize how critical transportation is to our economy and social well-being.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to working with you in this reauthorization process.