COBLE OBTAINS ABOUT $50 MILLION IN HIGHWAY BILL PASSED BY HOUSE TODAY
Jul 29, 2005 -
The House today approved a massive reauthorization of the nation’s highway spending bill, and thanks to the efforts of U.S. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), just under $50 million will be spent on much-needed transportation projects throughout the 6th District. Congressman Coble was successful in obtaining funds to upgrade and expand I-73/I-74, provide funding for a bus terminal system for the High Point furniture market, establish a high-tech signaling system for Greensboro, as well as provide public transportation for Elon and throughout the district.
Rep. Coble’s requests which were approved in the highway spending package totaled $49,918,000. “This funding program is long overdue and critically needed,” Rep. Coble said. “Our nation’s infrastructure is in serious need of repair and expansion. Clogged roads are a detriment to commerce and quality of life. This bill will assist us in building the roads we need, provide the public transportation that is warranted, and repair those bridges and roads which are crumbling today. I am proud of our efforts to improve and expand the transportation infrastructure system throughout the 6th District.”
Rep. Coble obtained almost $13 million for design and construction of I-73 and I-74 in two different portions of his district. I-73/I-74 and U.S. 220 will receive $8.8 million for upgrading and expansion in Randolph and Montgomery counties. Construction of I-74 between I-40 and U.S. 220 near High Point will receive $4 million. In Greensboro, Rep. Coble obtained $10 million for an Intelligent Transportation System. The funds will be used to upgrade the city’s computerized traffic signal system to include a fiber-optic based communications network to replace a failing copper wire system, expand a closed circuit television camera system from 18 to 86 cameras to monitor traffic, and provide advanced traveler information.
For High Point, Rep. Coble obtained $5.016 million for a modern bus terminal being constructed to serve the International Home Furnishings Market. Also for High Point, Rep. Coble received $4 million for design and construction of what is being called the Airport Area Roadway Network. This project will widen Sandy Ridge Road from Skeet Club Road to I-40 and will alleviate congestion on NC 68.
Rep. Coble also secured $10,466,720 for the construction of a multi-modal center to serve the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART). In addition, Rep. Coble obtained $1,003,200 for the start-up of PART bus service to the town of Elon and Elon University. Also, Greensboro will receive $4,832,080 for the purchase of replacement busses thanks to the efforts of Rep. Coble.
In addition, Coble secured $800,000 for Greensboro to construct a rail-to-trail project. The plan is a restoration of the abandoned Norfolk Southern and Atlantic Yadkin railroad right-of-way. These funds will extend the trail 3.35 miles south of Cone Boulevard across Wendover Avenue and terminates at Spring Garden Street near UNCG and Greensboro College.
Congressman Coble also said he was proud that the conference report included his measure to fix a problem which has been adversely affecting how utility companies service their customers during emergencies. Approval was given to Coble’s request for an exemption for operators of utility service vehicles from U.S. Department of Transportation “hours of service” rules. Coble said, “Utilities have public service responsibilities that do not pertain to other truck fleets. They are required by state public service commissions to maintain service and repair outages on a timely basis. Moreover, they must act to protect public safety in case of emergencies. For example, in the electric utility industry, crews are trained and routinely serve as ‘first responders’ to de-energize or remove power lines so that other rescue personnel can begin their work at the scenes of accidents, fires or natural disasters.”
The conference report also contained another Coble request to review applications by commercial drivers with insulin-treated diabetes on a case-by-case basis rather than a blanket ban preventing those with diabetes from applying for a license. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) praised the 6th District Republican for his efforts. “Mr. Coble has been a tireless advocate for modernizing our safety laws,” said Shereen Arent, National Director of Legal Advocacy of the ADA, “and people with diabetes and their families in North Carolina and the nation owe him a debt of gratitude.”
The House today approved the $286.4 billion conference report by a vote of 412-8. Once the Senate adopts the report, President Bush is expected to sign the legislation into law.