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    Mayor O'Neill Attends DC Press Event As Part of U.S. Conf. of Mayors' Support for Proposed $375 Billion Transportation Bill

    See also, related subsequent story: Mayor O'Neill Lobbied In DC For Millender-McDonald Goods Movement Bill HR 3398 During Conf. of Mayors Event After Deflecting Public Questions About City's Lobbying Role At Council Meeting

    (Nov. 6, 2003, updated 4:20 p.m.) -- In a Capitol Hill press event today, LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill joined other leaders of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to urge passage of a proposed $375 billion nationwide transportation bill.

    The press event, webcast by the House Committee, was attended by Mayor O'Neill in her capacity as chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Advisory Committee.

    DC News Con re Transportation Bill Nov. 6/03
    Mayor O'Neill, seated lower right, awaits start of event. Screen capture from House Trans & Infr. Comm. webcast

    LB's new Director of Public Works, Christine Anderson, accompanied the Mayor.
    In extemporaneous remarks, Mayor O'Neill stated:

    Mayor O'Neill @ DC News Con re Trans. bill Nov. 6/03
    Screen capture from House Trans & Infr. Comm. webcast
    As Mayors we're delighted to be here to emphasize the importance of what this transportation bill means.

    We are here to emphasize the fact that we cannot wait another year to have it postponed. We've already waited a year, and as each Mayor will tell you, what has happened each year is causing a crisis.

    ...We have had a population increase of 40% since the 60s, we have had 100% in transportation on our highways, and we have had a 6% increase in highway construction. This is an area that has caused decay. It has caused infrastructure needs. It's caused damage to all our highways. It's something that we need every day to pay attention to.

    I think you've all heard of the Alameda Corridor. The Alameda Corridor is a marvelous example of a public-private partnership, but to do the Alameda Corridor, to help the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, it took 15 years. It was finished on time and on budget, but by the time it was planned, the concept, [it took] 15 years before it was completed.

    If we started today, we would have to wait years before we had completed the things that were necessary and were necessary yesterday.'m here talking mainly in this group about what we're calling mega-projects, and that is the transportation across the Gerald Desmond bridge, which the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles uses.

    Also the 710 freeway which has been in operation since the 50s, and it was a 20 year plan for that freeway.

    So all of this is crumbling. The bridges are crumbling...These are things that need immediate attention.

    We are here to support these wonderful members of the [House] Transportation Committee that are working so hard to get this reauthorization.

    I urge all of you that are involved with this to realize what is being faced every day in every city. If you go on the 710 from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the north Los Angeles area and get between four different 18-wheelers, you don't know where you are. We are probably the most dangerous freeway in California.

    So we urge all of your support. I think I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but I also want to thank the members of the committee, and I know they have had a chance to see the megaproject that I'm talking about, but I urge you all to listen to what each Mayor is saying because there are several of us here today, but we represent the Mayors of the United States. Thank you. [applause].

    The chairman of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, Don Young (R., Alaska) assured the Mayors' group, "We're very, very dedicated to this process...about building infrastructure in this nation and I'm glad the Mayors are here," then added:

    You also have another responsibility. Not only do you have to go see your Congressman, you have to start a letter-writing campaign from your cities to the administration and the leaders of this Congress, telling them the importance to your community, not only for economic reasons but for the future.

    Infrastructure is the future of this nation...We did not pick the $375 billion number. That was the number we received from the Dept. of Transportation. It is the money that is necessary, and anything less than that will not do the job...

    You have the responsibility, along with your state legislators and your Governors, but the Mayors more so because you're really on hand to make sure your people understand that this legislation must become a reality...

    In response to a press question about how environmental and historic preservation considerations would be dealt with in the legislation, chairman Young said:

    There will be language referencing streamlining of projects to speed the project delivery, but it will be done in a way that will be respectful of environmental concerns and of historic preservation concerns...

    ...What we need to do is assure that all concerns are taken into consideration at the time of project formulation and resolve those issues early in the process so that where adjustments have to be made, they can and will be made to protect the environment and respect historic concerns.

    Chairman Young spoke highly of the process used by Seattle in its monorail project, clearing 42 permits and 20 some agencies by working out "a way to do all of that project approval process in an expeditious time frame while not neglecting, overriding or subjecting to lesser status any of the environmental or historic considerations. It's a model, I think, for the country."

    In addition to LB Mayor O'Neill, the press event was attended by the following Mayors: Don Plusquellic (Akron, OH) (VP Mayors Conference) Buddy Dyer (Orlando, FL), Patrick Henry Hays (North Little Rock, AR), Timothy McDonough, (Hope, NJ), Brian Wahler (Piscataway, NJ) and James Brainard (Carmel, IN).

    [update] The bill would provide the $375 billion in a six year reauthorization. Previous transportation bills have been appropriated funds for shorter terms, most recently for give months. Committee chair Young said in a release issued in September, "I want to stress my continued commitment to a multi-year reauthorization bill and I also remain committed to introducing a bill that meets the needs and improves our highways and transit systems and provides jobs." [end update]

    There was no public mention of HR 3398, a separate bill (separately reported by proposed by LB area Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald that would spend $18 billion -- also over a six year period -- to facilitate and fund transportation projects of national significance involving the movement of goods.

    Related issue:

  • (Reaction Pro & Con To Cong. Millender-McDonald's Proposed HR 3398 To Create System Of Fed'l Funds Fueling Goods Movement Projects of Nat'l Significance

  • Cong. Millender-McDonald Introduces Legislation Proposing System Of Fed'l Funds Fueling Goods Movement Projects of Nat'l Significance

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