U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is conducting a four-day national campaign against congressional delays in passing President Bush’s six-year federal surface transportation reauthorization bill.
A minor proposal related to the reauthorization would freeze truck weight and length limits on federal highways.
Mineta and senior transportation officials are asking that lawmakers not resort to short-term extensions of the current legislation, Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), as well as congressional overspending that could deplete the highway trust fund quickly.
“The Bush Administration has proposed the greatest federal transportation investment in our nation’s history,” Mineta said in a prepared statement. “Most states can confirm what this administration has said from the beginning – that avoiding the responsibility of passing a full six-year reauthorization bill would bring us one step closer to crisis.”
He launched his campaign Sept. 12 in San Diego, during groundbreaking for the state Route 125 South Toll Road project, a toll road extending that route 9.3 miles. Other stops will include the American Road and Transportation Builders Association convention in Washington, D.C., and other transportation venues in New Orleans, Atlanta and Charleston, W.Va. The campaign ends Monday.
Last week Mineta sent lawmakers a letter warning that if they did not pass reauthorization legislation by the current legislation’s Sept. 30 expiration date, key federal highway safety administration programs would shut down and federal workers would be furloughed.
On June 26, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the Surface Transportation Safety Reauthorization Act of 2003 by voice vote. The committee’s bill deals with TEA-21 reauthorization safety issues under that committee’s jurisdiction.
That bill will be offered as an amendment to the TEA-21 reauthorization legislation when the full Senate considers it.
An amendment to that committee’s bill freezes current weight and length limits of vehicles operating on federal highways. If passed, this would remove the states’ authority to set length and weight standards of vehicles on the National Highway System.