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U.S. Senate bill may save territorial highway program

WASHINGTON DC —The U.S. Senate has voted to reauthorize several federal highway programs that are set to expire on March 30, including the Puerto Rico Highway Program (PRHP) and the Territorial Highway Program (THP).

Senate bill (S. 1813), also known as the  “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21),  – merged the Territorial and Puerto Rico Highway program, and gives reauthorization for $180 million annually in FY2012 and FY 2013.  Of the annual amount received, Puerto Rico gets 75-percent ($135 million) while the remaining 25-percent ($45 million) is shared among American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).  The 25-percent share is distributed among the four territories based on a formula used in past years. 

Based on these allocations, American Samoa will receive $4.5 million in FY 2012 and again in FY 2013.

“Funding from the Territorial Highway Program has been critical to our local government to help carry out road and infrastructure improvement projects in American Samoa,” Cong. Faleomavaega Eni said in a recent media release.  “And I am very pleased that the Senate transportation bill includes reauthorization of this important funding stream for us and all the territories.”

Under the Senate bill, the Territorial and Puerto Rico Highway program will continue to be funded from the Highway Trust Fund.  In contrast, the House transportation bill (H.R. 7), introduced earlier this year, would remove the territorial highway programs from the Highway Trust Fund, and instead place them under a new alternative transportation account.

“As I noted in a previous press release, the territorial delegates, in a joint request, asked the House leadership to not remove the territorial highway programs from the Highway Trust Fund, which has been the historical funding source for these programs.  Keeping the territorial highway programs under the Highway Trust Fund will ensure stability for these critical funding streams to the territories,” Faleomavaega added.

“At this point, there is no indication from the House leadership whether it will consider the House’s transportation bill, H.R. 7, or take on the Senate transportation bill, S. 1813, for final passage. I will continue to keep our people posted on this important issue,” Faleomavaega concluded.

Source: Media release from Cong. Faleomavaega's office