Statement of Senator Craig Thomas
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Environment and Public Works Committee
May 7, 1997

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today. Safety is of course a priority for all of us, and I look forward to hearing from the administration regarding its proposals.

Another safety issue I am concerned about is the current prohibition on using safety set-aside money on the Interstate system. In Wyoming, one of the most useful safety features on our system is the addition of "rumble strips" on the shoulders of our Interstate highways. They are particularly effective on rural Interstate highways. Although this work can be funded through the interstate maintenance program, the use of safety set aside money for this type of work would be ideal. The Administration claims that safety is its top priority, however, its NEXTEA proposal does nothing to address this issue. The bill Senators Baucus, Kempthorne and I introduced, the Surface Transportation Authorization and Regulatory Streamlining Act (STARS 2000) will make this important change to ensure safer highways in rural America.

STARS 2000 also brings some needed flexibility to the safety program. It retains the safety set-aside at current dollar levels and requires states to spend 25 percent of this money on railway-highway crossing projects, 25 percent on hazard elimination projects and the remaining 50 percent may be used for either program at state discretion.

Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. I look forward to listening to today's witnesses.