Highway bill passes in Congress, Inhofe receives praise
BY CHRIS CASTEEL NewsOK.com
Saturday, June 30, 2012
6/30/12 at 5:33 AM
WASHINGTON - Although a highway bill passed by Congress on Friday won't mean more federal dollars for Oklahoma in the next two years, the state's transportation secretary said changes included in the legislation would yield financial benefits.
"I can't tell you how excited we are about the opportunities Congress is going to provide the states," Gary Ridley said in an interview. "I think all states will benefit from what they're doing."
House and Senate negotiators, including Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. James Lankford, concluded work on the bill this week. House Republicans agreed to drop some unrelated provisions such as a requirement that the Keystone XL pipeline be approved, while Democrats agreed to House provisions that will streamline environmental reviews for road and bridge projects.
The bill will eliminate two-thirds of the programs that were part of the last highway bill, approved in 2005, and give states more flexibility in using money that had been required for alternative transportation modes, such as bike paths. Supporters said the environmental review changes could cut the average time of a project in half.
Original Print Headline: Highway bill wins approval
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Rep. John Mica, R- Fla. (left), and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., listen as Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., speaks at a Transportation Committee meeting in May. Congress on Friday emphatically approved legislation preserving jobs on transportation projects from coast to coast and avoiding interest rate increases on new loans to millions of college students. Associated Press file