ORISKANY, N.Y. - Congressman Richard Hanna spoke Monday about what he calls the most significant transportation policy reforms the United States has seen in decades thanks to the passage of a long-term federal transportation bill.
According to Hanna, the bill allows more than $100 billion to be spent on highway, mass transit and other transportation programs during the next two years, saying that thousands of jobs will be created right here in New York.
Hanna, who is Vice Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, played an integral role in negotiating the final bill as a member of the House-Senate Conference Committee.
He met personally with the leading Democrat - Senator Barbara Boxer - and the leading Republican - Congressman John Mica - on the conference committee.
"This bill is the culmination of more than a year's work aimed at improving our national transportation policies," Rep. Hanna said. "We now have two years of steady federal funding coming to New York State so we can invest in our ailing roads and bridges. This bill will help improve our infrastructure and put so many of our neighbors back to work strengthening the middle class and rebuilding our economy."
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald stood with Hanna Monday to announce the passage of the highway bill and what it means for the state. They were joined by Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente and state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BILL (according to Congressman Hanna)
- More than $100 billion will be spent over the next two years on federal highway projects, rebuilding our nation's infrastructure and putting middle and working class men and women back to work throughout the nation.
- This bill eliminates wasteful or duplicative programs that for too long diverted funds from worthy transportation projects to unrelated causes.
- It will significantly reduce the time it takes to complete major projects from 14 years by cutting through red tape and bureaucracy that can mire projects in lawsuits and unnecessary reviews.
- This bill contains zero earmarks, ending the history of 'bridges to nowhere.' That means more funds are available for real work that needs to be done in Upstate.
- Significantly for upstate New York, Rep. Hanna negotiated key concessions from the Senate's bill that would have devastated the Metropolitan Planning Organizations in Utica, Rome and Binghamton. These groups play a vital role in identifying and planning for needed projects in these areas. Working with the National Association of Development Organizations, Rep. Hanna also included a provision to provide small, rural communities a greater say in the planning process to ensure their voices are heard when important decisions are made about which projects to fund.
"The quality of our future is built upon our transportation infrastructure. Oneida County relies upon the federal government making essential investments in highways, mass transit and other transportation priorities to increase our region's ability to forge critical economic connections outside of the region, and provide effective transportation connections between and within our communities," said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente. "At a time when our infrastructure is facing tremendous needs, Oneida County could have ill afforded the complete halt that could have followed if this bill had not been passed. I want to thank Congressman Hanna for his leadership in Washington and his actions to ensure that this critical legislation moves forward. His work to pass a bill that reduces the bureaucratic red tape that has stalled essential projects for far too many years in the past is an important step towards helping our region move forward. The fact that this is a long-term bill, and not just another extension, will enable the State to undertake major road and bridge construction projects in our county."
"The importance of this latest action to keep transportation funding flowing from Washington cannot be overstated," State Senator Joseph Griffo said. "Our regional infrastructure needs the activities and planning that are funded by this bill, and even a slight interruption in funding could have very serious implications in important projects that impact Central and Northern New York. I know that Congressman Hanna devoted extensive work to making this bill move through the legislative process so that funding and work can continue without interruption, and I want to praise his efforts on our behalf. This bill makes some important improvements in the planning process that, I hope, will shorten the time spent in reviewing projects that need to be fast-tracked to help our communities and our economy. Having this bill signed is an important step forward for our region."
"I am grateful to Congressman Hanna for his hard work in crafting this long-term transportation bill," said House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica said. "Given his background in construction and focus on achieving results, Richard Hanna was an invaluable member of the team that got this landmark bill to the finish line."