Toll Credit Language to be repealed, will help Route 219

Posted on June 28th, 2012

Daily American (June 28, 2012)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Mark S. Critz (D-12) and Bill Shuster (R- PA 9) announced today that a two-year transportation bill has been finalized by House and Senate conferees. The legislation unveiled today also repeals a 2005 transportation bill provision that restricted the use of toll credits as part of the non-federal funding for the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS).

This meant that dozens of highway construction projects throughout the Appalachian region – projects like the completion of US 219 from Somerset to I-68 – were stopped because of this language. Today’s bill not only repeals this language but also allows the federal share of funding on ADHS projects to be 100 percent.

Yesterday, Critz introduced a measure to force action on the legislation, to ensure that a new law would be completed before the current law expires June 30, 2012.

“As I have said for months, this issue is about creating jobs and about strengthening the American economy,” said Congressman Critz. “Nearly three years and nine extensions later, we finally have a new transportation bill – one that, while not perfect, will make much needed investments in our roads, highways, rail, and public transit systems. Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure will protect and create three million American jobs while providing opportunities for future economic growth.”

“I’m thrilled that this legislation will finally allow us to move-forward on upgrading US 219 to a four-lane highway between Somerset and I-68 in Maryland. This project has been a top priority of mine and a top priority of our other local elected officials, and the people of Somerset and Cambria Counties have waited far too long for this project to come to fruition. The completion of 219 south will be an economic driver for our entire region, creating jobs and furthering business opportunities.”

U.S. Rep, Shuster said he is pleased that the bicameral, bipartisan agreement reached on a major transportation reform bill will include language allowing toll credits to be used as matching funds for routes on the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS).

“Completing Route 219 has long been one of my highest priorities in Congress,” Shuster said. “Transportation is critical to competiveness, job creation, and our quality of life. This critical north-south route will open the door to greater economic development and a higher standard of living for everyone in this important transportation corridor.”

“Last March, I introduced legislation to allow toll credits to be used as matching funds for routes on the Appalachian Development Highway System, which Route 219 is a part of,” Shuster added. “Including this toll credits language in the transportation conference report removes a barrier that has been standing in the way of completing Route 219.”

Earlier this year, Congressman Critz sent a letter to House Committee on Transportation Chairman John Mica urging him to repeal the current toll credit language so that states can count toll credits as the required match for transportation projects in the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS). Last year, Congressman Critz testified before the committee on the issue of toll credits.

This compromised legislation will be voted on by both the House and Senate this week.