AAA calls for added funding for transportation The economic stimulus bill now being debated in Congress is a good first step to shore up transportation funding, AAA South Dakota says. The version of the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives allocates $30 billion for highway and bridge projects, $9 billion for transit, and $1 billion for Amtrak and intercity passenger rail. This represents approximately five percent of the proposed two-year $825 billion package, $275 billion of which is dedicated to tax breaks. â�?�?However, the cost to repair the nationâ�?�?s highways and bridges is certainly greater than $30 billion,â�? said Mark Madeja, spokesman for AAA South Dakota. â�?�?The nation has systematically underinvested in transportation for many years â�?�? the backlog of needs is now huge. According to the South Dakota Dept. of Transportation the state of South Dakota will have $150 million in road projects ready to go just waiting for available funding. â�?�?Without action, there is a very real risk of further job loss and economic decline,â�? said Madeja. â�?�?The figures vary and are based on 1997 research, but the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that nearly 30,000 jobs are supported for every $1 billion in highway spending.â�? AAA is urging congressional leaders to include strong oversight and accountability language in the final recovery package to make sure resources are spent on the transportation projects that will make the greatest contribution to safety, congestion relief and system efficiency, without earmarks. â�?�?The $30 billion in transportation-related economic recovery funds should be considered a down-payment for the significant longer-term investment that will be needed to ensure continued economic growth and mobility in the future,â�? said Madeja. â�?�?That is why we also need to be focused on urging Congress to pass a strong multi-year transportation re-authorization plan before the current one expires at the end of September.â�?
By David Lias For most people in Vermillion, Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson have been merely images on newsprint. The … Read Article