AIA Backs House Move for Highway Reuathorization Bill

March 3, 2005

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday moved important legislation (H.R. 3) to make roads safer for motorists and address loss cost factors for insurers, according to Melissa Shelk, vice president, federal affairs, with the American Insurance Association.

The “Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy For Users” (TEA LU), is the long-delayed reauthorization of the federal highway, public transportation, highway safety, and motor carrier safety programs for six years, from fiscal years 2004 through 2009, Shelk said. With bipartisan support, the bill now moves to the House Ways and Means Committee, before its anticipated debate before the full House next week.

“What is really significant is this bill contains nearly $284 billion in guaranteed funding for these programs—a 42 percent increase over TEA 21 funding,” Shelk stated. “Among its many benefits, the bill creates a new Congestion Relief Program, with dedicated funding, and a separate but related funding increase for public transportation projects, which will also help with congestion.”

TEA LU also contains monies for a variety of highway safety programs, including a new program to reduce the hazards of driving on two-lane rural roads, noting that about 61 percent of all highway-related fatalities occur on rural roads, Shelk noted. “In addition, we are pleased that the bill has funding to address intersection improvements and projects to address the issues surrounding older drivers,” Shelk said.

More than $1 billion will go to highway projects along borders with Mexico and Canada, added David Snyder, AIA vice president and assistant general counsel. “This will better the roadways trucks use to cross our borders. Insurers would welcome these and the other improvements in the bill because they reduce accidents and injuries, and ultimately insurance costs,” Snyder said.

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