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President urged to change SAFETEA position

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week urged President Bush to reconsider his opposition to bipartisan and bicameral bills designed to address the nation's growing highway safety and congestion crisis.

"It is my view, and I believe the view of most of my colleagues in Congress, that you are not receiving the best advice on the issue of how to reauthorize our nation's surface transportation programs for the coming six years," U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) wrote in a letter to Bush.

Young noted that numerous congestion, safety and economic problems caused by the nation's crumbling surface infrastructure system warranted a strong and immediate response by Congress and the White House.

"Finding solutions will require an honest discussion of the issues and a willingness to investigate any potential means to ensure the continued viability of the trust fund. I am extremely disappointed with the 'take it or leave it' approach taken by your advisers. They have provided no real alternatives to the problem faced by this Congress.

“I believe that we have a bicameral, bipartisan consensus that a much larger level of funding is needed for surface transportation than the bare bones approach presented in the Administration's SAFETEA proposal.

"Creating a strong funding framework will require consideration of all possible options including traditional methods of funding as well as new and innovative methods. No option should be placed ‘off limits’ for discussion.

"I strongly urge you to reach out for new and creative ways to address the funding of one of the most essential programs carried out by the federal government – the funding of highway and transit programs," Young concluded in the letter.

For additional information, access the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee website at: