|March 10, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA REQUESTS ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR AMERICAN SAMOA’S FEDERAL HIGHWAY PROGRAM|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that he has submitted a proposal to the House Committee
on Transportation requesting $20 million in high priority project funding
to address American Samoa’s transportation needs in Tutuila and Manu’a.
“In 1998, Congress put together a six-year plan known as the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). Under the provisions of TEA-21, I was able to get over $32 million in funding for American Samoa, including $12 million to improve our village roads,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “TEA-21 will expire in 2004 and Congress is now working on a plan that will provide additional funding to the states and territories after 2004.”
“Chairman Don Young and Ranking Member James Oberstar of the House Transportation Committee recently sent out a letter to members of Congress stating that they believe that Members of the House of Representatives are in the best position to help identify how funding should be appropriated in each Congressional district. Both the Chairman and the Ranking Member have also informed Members that if we are interested in having the Committee consider specific high priority highway projects for our districts we should fill out a questionnaire and submit a proposal no later than March 14, 2003.”
“Last week, I brought this matter to the attention of the Governor and the Fono and I also invited the Governor to write a letter to be included in the proposal. As we have discussed in the past, there is a critical need to upgrade our Route 1 corridor program. Route 1 is the only commercial and emergency link between the harbor, airport and hospital in American Samoa. It is also the only link between the Western District and the main town and American Samoa could certainly use funds to accelerate the construction of this project,” Faleomavaega said.
“There has also been serious erosion of village lands along the coast of Route 1 due to high wave activity. Although FHWA released emergency funds to assist with the damages incurred, American Samoa continues to contend with rockslides due to a lack of shore protection. Landslides, erosion, and runoff also cause considerable flooding on the Tafuna Leone Plain. Flooding in Tafuna is due in large part to lack of drainage and this is why I am seeking high priority funding to help mitigate drainage and expedite construction of Route 1.”
“I also continue to be concerned
about our roads in Manu’a,” the Congressman said. “In 1998, I was
able to get $12 million for Village Road Development on the islands of
Tutuila and Manu’a. This was the first time that Congress ever agreed
to let federal highway funds be used for constructing roads that are not
part of the federal highway system and I am pleased that Congress acted
favorably on my request. I also thank the Governor and his administration
for ensuring that the money was used to expedite construction of village
roads throughout the Territory.”
“What I can say is that American Samoa receives about $3.3 million per year in federal highway funds and last year American Samoa also received an additional $2 million in emergency relief funds. Since 1992, American Samoa has received more than $70 million in federal highway transportation funds. I am also pleased to report that we have been able to secure Demonstration project funding comparable to the same amount allocated to Puerto Rico which has a population of almost 4 million residents,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“I also believe it is important to explain how Congress authorizes transportation funds,” the Congressman continued. “Simply put, a federal gas tax is collected nationally to fund the transportation bill. Residents of American Samoa and other territories are not required to contribute to this fund or pay federal gas taxes. Although we pay no federal gas taxes, Congress provides for our transportation needs by way of a direct-set aside for the Territories and this is known as the Territorial Highway Program.”
“Put another way, Congress sets aside a lump sum of money for the Territorial Highway Program and this money is then divided between Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa according to a formula. The formula is based on population, road mileage, area, and other factors. However, this formula was not established by Congress. The formula was established by the Federal Highway Administration and it is my understanding that the Territorial Governors have at times voiced some concerns about it. Given the controversy surrounding the formula, I believe it is time for Congress to review the matter to ensure that everyone involved is being treated fairly, and especially American Samoa.”
“Finally, if Congress is unable to fund high priority projects for the Territories due to the unknown costs of war, then I am hopeful that Congress will support my request for an overall increase in funding for the Territorial Highway Program,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “An increase in funding for the Territorial Highway Program will mean that American Samoa will get more than $3.3 million per year to address its critical transportation needs in Tutuila and Manu’a.”
“The Chairman and Ranking Member have set a goal to complete this legislation by September and I am pleased that Senator Inouye has also agreed to help us. As always, I look forward to working with the Governor and the Fono on this most important matter, and for the betterment of American Samoa I am hopeful that Congress will favorably support our request for additional federal highway funding,” the Congressman concluded.
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