U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta called on Congress to show fiscal responsibility and pass a six-year surface transportation bill that provides record spending without raising taxes, increasing the deficit or taking money from other programs.

Secretary Mineta made his remarks after touring two midtown road projects and the nearby Atlantic Station mixed-use development, which is expected to benefit from the road work. The projects include the construction of the southern half of the 17th Street-I-75/85 interchange and the replacement of the congested 14th Street Bridge. During the tour, Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl showed how the projects will boost the local economy and improve quality of life by easing congestion and connecting the area to freeways.

The Bush administration's $256 billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal, called the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003 (SAFETEA), would be the largest highway, transit and safety investment in U.S. history. The U.S. Senate last week passed a transportation bill that would divert tax dollars from other programs and risk increasing the deficit.

SAFETEA would provide Georgia with more than $1 billion every year for the next six years for infrastructure maintenance and improvements for highway and transit facilities, including the new interchange and bridge.

About $53 million of the funding for the 14th Street Bridge and interchange, estimated to cost a total of $67 million, would come from the federal government under SAFETEA.

Source: Georgia Department of Transportation, Feb. 19, 2004