SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Utah could get upwards of $100 million in federal funds for state highway and road projects if a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives gets similar approval in the Senate.
The funds are part of a six-year, $283.9 billion highway spending bill, which some called “totally inadequate” to address the nation’s infrastructure needs.
Critics said the bill will bust the federal budget and swell the deficit. A Senate committee is expected to consider the bill the week of Mar. 14.
President Bush has threatened to veto the measure if the final price tag exceeds $284 billion, or if it includes a provision allowing Congress to reconsider state funding allocations before 2009.
“We have to do something about our nation’s transportation infrastructure,” said Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah. “Annually, congestion costs American drivers $67 billion in lost productivity and wasted motor fuel. More than 30 percent of our major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and 29 percent of our bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.”
Bishop and other Utah congressional members called the bill “years overdue” and said the projects are critical investments in communities that will help economic development efforts.
Among the projects set aside for Utah are:
• Combined $14 million for the Southern Corridor access road to a proposed new St. George airport and for the Red Hills Parkway;
• $7 million for Bingham Junction Boulevard in Midvale;
• $7 million for 13th East in Sandy to ease congestion;
• $5.5 million for Highway 92 in Utah County, between I-15 and Canyon Road;
• $4 million for construction of a graded crossing at 200 North in Kaysville.
Also included are projects to expand Utah’s light and commuter rails systems, including the Airport TRAX Line, the Delta Center-Gateway TRAX extension, the Draper-to-Sandy TRAX line, the West Valley City TRAX extension, the West Jordan TRAX extension, TRAX capacity improvements and commuter rail from Provo to Ogden.
Democrat Rep. Jim Matheson’s district received the bulk of the money earmarked for Utah projects, $57 million in all.
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, secured funding for an access road to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and for landscaping downtown Brigham City.
Cannon secured money to widen Geneva Road in Orem and an Interstate 15 interchange in Springville.