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Cornett talks transportation with U.S. Senate committee

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As federal lawmakers work on the reauthorization
of a major transportation spending bill, city and state officials from across
the nation addressed the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
on March 27.

Cornett told the committee that progress has
been made concerning transportation funding and resources from the federal
government, but more can be done.

“The national transportation strategy and the
associated federal agencies, laws, regulations and policies should provide a
simple framework that empowers state and local governments to efficiently
select and deliver transportation solutions to address their unique needs,”
Cornett said in his prepared remarks. “However, it seems that we regularly
encounter federal stumbling blocks that materialize as regulatory clearances,
design reviews and bureaucratic approvals.”

Cornett was one of two U.S. mayors to address
the committee, which is working on a reauthorization of MAP-21, a bill that was
signed by President Obama in 2012 and allocated over $105 billion for fiscal
years 2013 and 2014 for surface transportation projects across the country.
Lawmakers are working on the continuation of that bill for future years.

During his remarks, Cornett said Oklahoma City
has had success with recent transportation projects, including the Interstate
40 realignment and the planned final phases that will include a new boulevard
in downtown.

“The Interstate 40 project addressed a serious
deficiency in one of this country’s most critical freight and transportation
linkages and was many, many years in the making,” Cornett said. “Today, the
realignment has sparked a flurry of activity, new investment and development in
the downtown area highlighted by Devon Energy’s new and iconic tower and a resurgence
in retail development.”

While Cornett praised the partnership on the
I-40 realignment, he expressed worry that federal transportation funds will be
limited in the future.

“As our facilities become more and more
congested, we need confidence that a strong federal investment will exist that
can foster a long term vision necessary to develop solutions.”

Cornett
also said a plan to improve an off ramp on Interstate 235 has been delayed by
the federal government. The off ramp improvements were announced following the
plans for a new General Electric research facility, Cornett said.

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