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LANDMARK TRANSPORTATION BILL CHARTS NEW COURSE FOR BAY AREA

 LANDMARK TRANSPORTATION BILL CHARTS NEW COURSE FOR BAY AREA
 OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Congress is closing one chapter of American transportation policy -- that of directing federal dollars largely toward building Interstate highways -- and is handing states and metropolitan areas the pen to write the next one under a six-year, $151 billion Surface Transportation bill expected to be sent to the president today.
 "This is what MTC and the Bay Area transportation community have been advocating for the past seven years. Congress has finally given us the flexibility needed to tailor federal transportation investments to local needs, rather than having to live with decisions made in Washington," said Metropolitan Transportation Commission Chairman Steve Weir. "In the Bay Area, this means we can keep our region's rail extension program funded and on schedule, it means we can direct more resources into smoothing the flow of traffic on local arterials or on adding carpool lanes to ease congested freeways -- whatever makes sense in a given corridor."
 As approved by a 92-member House and Senate conference committee, the measure will provide California and the Bay Area with:
 -- flexibility to use Surface Transportation Program funds for either highway, mass transit or local arterial streets;
 -- the ability to bring transportation planning and funding in line with the Federal Clean Air Act; and
 -- increased federal assistance in solving the problems of urban and suburban congestion.
 The transit portion of the bill will:
 -- increase federal funding for public transit nationwide by 50 percent, from the current $3.4 billion to more than $5 billion in fiscal year 1992 (total nationwide funding for transit would be nearly $32 billion over six years);
 -- earmark funding for MTC's rail extension program, including $568 million over six years to take BART to San Francisco International Airport and build the Tasman light-rail project in Santa Clara County; and
 -- increase funding for such projects as San Francisco Muni Metro's Turnback and extension to Sixth Street, ferry service from Vallejo to San Francisco, North Bay rail service and CalTrain extensions to downtown San Francisco and Gilroy.
 Key highway provisions include:
 -- nearly $4 billion in new funds for California over the next six years, over and above current levels; and
 -- funding for specific improvements on Bay Area highways, including carpool lanes on Interstate 880 in Alameda County, improvements to Highway 85 and Highway 17 in San Jose, and seismic upgrading of the Golden Gate Bridge.
 The bill establishes an innovative new Surface Transportation Program, with nearly $24 billion in flexible funds available for urban areas to spend on mass transit, highways, local streets, bikeways and other programs. Another breakthrough for California and the Bay Area is a provision to ensure that states get back at least 90 percent of what they contribute in taxes to the federal Highway Trust Fund.
 The measure also includes $8.2 billion to complete remaining portions of the federal Interstate Highway System around the country; $21 billion for a new National Highway System; $17 billion for Interstate maintenance; $16.1 billion for bridges; $6 billion for congestion and air quality programs; $4 billion for a reimbursement program for states that built major highways prior to the creation of the Interstate system; $6.4 billion in demonstration programs; and $1.85 billion for road projects on federal lands.
 An 80/20 match formula ($80 from Washington must be matched by $20 from state and local coffers) is offered for all programs. In areas such as the Bay Area that fail to attain federal clean air standards, up to 100 percent of the funds designated for the National Highway System may be transferred to the flexible Surface Transportation Program.
 Weir credited California Sen. Alan Cranston and Rep. Norm Mineta of San Jose for the flexibility and urban focus of the bill. "Both Sen. Cranston and Congressman Mineta were instrumental in delivering a bill designed to attack congestion in urban areas -- where 90 percent of Americans live -- rather than on continuing to expand highways," Weir said, adding that the bill also reflects many of the transportation principles being advanced by the Bush administration.
 "This is a bill that will keep America moving into the next century. The president should sign it into law immediately," said Weir.
 MTC is the transportation planning and financing agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
 -0- 11/27/91
 /CONTACT: Ellen Griffin, 510-464-7847 or Susan Terry, 510-464-7785 both of Metropolitan Transportation Commission/ CO: Metropolitan Transportation Commission ST: California IN: TRN SU:


DB -- SF002 -- 7798 11/27/91 14:29 EST
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Date:Nov 27, 1991
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