Statement of Senator Jim Jeffords
Highway Bill Mr. President, today we begin the third week of debate on this very important legislation. The bill before us, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005, better know as the highway bill, is important to the nation. Too many Americans are sitting in traffic. The Texas Transportation Institute – which ranks U.S. cities on the severity of their congestion, tells us in a recently released report that the average commuter in Atlanta sits in traffic for 67 hours each year, in Washington D.C. for 69 hours, in San Francisco for 72 hours. In Los Angeles the average commuter sits in traffic for an astounding 93 hours each year. That is almost 4 days each year wasted while sitting behind the wheel in traffic. Now I would hope that we could move away from our reliance on cars and make better use of public transit, but the reality is that the number of cars on our roads increases each year. The bill before us will help cities and all of our states reduce congestion by adding additional travel lanes, by building overpasses at busy intersections and using the best technology available to keep our traffic moving. Mr. President, we need this bill to make our roads safer. More than 42,000 Americans will die in traffic accidents this year. The bill before us will help states make dangerous intersections and curves safer by putting up better warning signs, by building guard rails and by building center median dividers. This bill will make our roads safer by helping states build wider shoulders for disabled vehicles, by building rumble strips to slow down traffic, and by building fences to discourage jaywalkers. This bill will save lives. Mr. President, once again I would like to thank Chairman Inhofe, Senators Bond and Baucus for all of their efforts in moving this bill forward. And while I am glad we expect to pass this bill tomorrow through the Senate, I would like to remind all of my Senate colleagues we still have a lot of work to do ahead.