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McConnell Praises Passage of Transportation Bill
By The Associated Press/West Kentucky Star Staff
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congress has overwhelmingly approved a 5-year, $305 billion bill to address the nation's aging and congested highways and bridges after years of stymied efforts, and Kentucky's Senator is praising its bi-partisan passage.

The bill was approved 359 to 65 in the House, and 83 to 16 in the Senate. It now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature.

Support for the 1,300-page bill was helped by the inclusion of a generous sprinkling of industry favors, parochial projects, safety improvements and union demands.

The bill boosts highway and transit spending and assures states that federal help will be available for major projects. It doesn't include as much money or last as long as many lawmakers and the Obama administration would have liked. Nor does it resolve how to pay for transportation programs in the long term.

Beyond providing five years of funding certainty to the Commonwealth for transportation projects, the FAST Act includes a number of measures that could specifically benefit Kentucky, including:

· Designation of Natcher Parkway between Bowling Green and Owensboro as part of I-65 in an effort to help attract additional economic development to the region. 

· Nationally significant freight and highway projects totalling $4.5 billion, which will make it easier for Kentucky to compete for federal money for transportation infrastructure projects.

· A National Highway Freight Program, funded at $6.2 billion, to improve highway infrastructure projects that are especially critical to the movement of freight. 

· $50 million for the ARC High-speed broadband development initiative, to increase affordable access to broadband networks, distance learning opportunities, telehealth technologies, and promote e-commerce applications in Appalachia.

Senator Mitch McConnell praised the bill's passage, saying, “This bipartisan, long-term highway and transportation bill which I helped shepherd through the Senate provides five years of guaranteed funding and stability for interstate highway projects and gives state and local governments more flexibility in how they spend federal transportation dollars. And most importantly, it would also support jobs in Kentucky and across the nation as these and other important infrastructure projects get underway.” 

“Today’s passage of the highway and transportation bill is just the latest reminder of what’s possible in a new and more open Senate. It’s an achievement for the American people-an achievement that only the new majority in Congress has been able to deliver,” McConnell added.

Published 11:53 AM, Friday Dec. 04, 2015
Updated 03:31 PM, Friday Dec. 04, 2015

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