Statement of Senator Craig Thomas
Hearing on Reauthorization of ISTEA
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Environment and Public Works Committee
February 13, 1997

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today. It is important that the subcommittee examine our country's transportation infrastructure finding requirements because they are significant and we should be doing more to meet them. In fact, 44 percent of the roads in my state of Wyoming are in fair to poor condition. In addition, the State's highway repair and maintenance needs total $50 million per year, which is more than the state can address. Those figures do not include Wyoming's infrastructure needs in the federal lands highway program. The federal government owns 50 percent of the land in my state and those roads have substantial funding requirements as well.

I am also concerned about the infrastructure needs in our national parks. I met recently with the Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park and discovered that the majority of Yellowstone's road structurally deficient. As one of the crown jewels of the national park system and host of more than three million visitors annually, this situation is unacceptable. In fact, the Park's 10-year plan includes $250 million in road funding requirements. However, Yellowstone only receives roughly $8 million annually to meet these needs. I certainly hope this shortfall is an issue the committee will address during the reauthorization of ISTEA.

I also am pleased today's hearing will focus on the national economic benefits of the country's transportation infrastructure. Wyoming is a "bridge" state,\; goods are transported from their source across Wyoming, and to their final destination. A set of efficient and well maintained roads are as important to the cities that export goods across the country and around the world as they are to the people in Wyoming. The former director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation, Don Diller, said last year, "On I-80 in Wyoming, more than 50 percent of the traffic is trucks, and those trucks are not serviced in Wyoming. The goods are not manufactured in Wyoming, and the economy of Wyoming is not improved by their manufacture. The goods are not delivered in Wyoming, but add to the economy of some other area."

Again, Mr. Chairman, I am pleased you are holding this hearing so the subcommittee can explore these important national issues. I look forward to working with you to address some of these pressing national needs.