Congress Urges Completion of Appalachian Development Highway System
WASHINGTON, July 9, 2012—In a major transportation bill (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century) signed on July 6 by President Barack Obama, Congress approved the most significant federal commitment to the timely completion of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) since 1998.
Federal funding for ADHS corridors and access roads would be increased from the current 80 percent federal share to 100 percent federal share. The 100 percent federal share would apply to funds apportioned to the ADHS in prior years in addition to funds apportioned to the states under other highway programs. The authority for 100 percent federal funding would extend from 2012 through 2021.
"This legislation will immediately free up $2.1 billion in federal dollars for construction of the ADHS without having to have a state match," stated ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl. "This should relieve the fiscal pressure on states and enable them to move forward with construction of critical ADHS corridors."
A "Sense of the Senate" provision in the legislation stated that "the timely completion of the Appalachian Development Highway System is a transportation priority in the national interest."
Underscoring the interest of Congress in prioritizing the completion of the ADHS was another provision requiring each of the 13 Appalachian states to establish within one year a plan, including performance measurements, to finish the construction of its designated corridors.
Under the bill, the ADHS will be part of the larger Surface Transportation Program grant to the Appalachian states, with the states using the funding at their own direction.
The guarantee of 100 percent federal funding should give the ADHS a competitive advantage in obtaining funding through state departments of transportation, Gohl said. The legislation also creates a new Appalachian Development Public Transportation Assistance Program within the Mass Transit Account that will apportion $20 million a year to the Appalachian states under a formula established by the Appalachian Regional Commission.