Nov. 20, 2003 – A bill before the House of Representatives in Congress would increase federal highway and transportation funding for the Virgin Islands and the other U.S. territories by more than 50 percent.
In the territory, Delegate Donna M. Christensen said, it could result in annual appropriations of $18 million to $30 million over the next six years for federal highway projects — up from the current funding level of $13 million.
Christensen said in a release that the bipartisan leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced the bill calling for an overall appropriation of $375 billion over the next six years to address the nation's growing highway congestion and safety problems.
It would increase funding for the territories to $45 million in the first year, up from the current $36.4 million, and would increase the amount in increments over the six-year re-authorization period to $75 million in fiscal year 2009.
Christensen said the committee "responded positively to the request of my fellow territorial colleagues and [me] for a significant increase in our funding."
The House bill "represents a significant victory for the territories," she said, because both the Bush administration and the U.S. Senate version of the bill would keep the existing level of funding for the territories.
Monique Clendinen, the delegate's public relations aide, said Christensen is confident the bill will face little opposition in the full House and in the Senate.
"While we didn't get all of the funding we requested," Christensen said, "we got more than 80 percent of what we asked for, which will be a tremendous boost to our territory at a time that we badly need it." She said the increase in funding will enable the V.I. government "to complete some of the critically needed road projects that are pending."
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