Katko, Elected Officials, Business, Labor and Transportation Leaders Cite Highway Bill Successes

SYRACUSE, NY – Standing before the aging I-81 viaduct in Syracuse this morning (Dec. 4), U.S. Rep. John Katko was joined by a bipartisan group of elected officials from Onondaga, Cayuga, Wayne, and Oswego counties, as well as local business, transportation, and labor organizations, for a press conference to the discuss yesterday’s passage of the bipartisan conference report for H.R. 22, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

This long-term, multi-year highway bill passed both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and is now headed to the President’s desk for signature.

Katko shared significant wins for all of Central New York in the bill stating, “I am proud to have been able to take a leadership role on this bipartisan, long-term bill.  I saw legislation through committee, to the House floor, through conference – and we ended up with a quality product that is good for Central New York. This fully offset, five-year bill provides the stability and funding that Central New York needs to plan for the long-term. I’m grateful for the support of the local business, transportation, and labor organizations that are here with me today, and for their recognition of the important role that this long-term bill will play in improving our community’s infrastructure.”

Katko, who served as a negotiator of the bill as a member of the House and Senate Conference committee on the legislation, emphasized the importance of breaking through gridlock in Washington.

“I recognize that there is gridlock in Washington, and that the institution as a whole may not be working as it should, but I will continue to work – as I did to produce this bill – every day in Washington to produce bipartisan results for Central New York,” he said.

Katko was joined today by New York State Assemblyman Bob Oaks (130th District), Chairman of the Onondaga County Legislature Ryan McMahon, Oswego Mayor-elect Billy Barlow, Oswego County Clerk Mike Backus, Cayuga County Legislator Tim Lattimore, Auburn City Clerk Chuck Mason, Auburn City Councilor-elect James Giannettino, representatives for New York State Senators John A. DeFrancisco (50th District) and David J. Valesky (53rd District), as well as representatives from the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council,  Centro, the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY), the Cayuga County Economic Development Agency, United Association of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 267, Laborers’ Local 633, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Central New York Building and Construction Trades Council, and IBEW Local 43.

These individual and organizations, as well as a number of others who were unable to attend today, praised the bipartisan passage of the highway bill and applauded Representative Katko’s efforts in Congress to ensure that, among other things, I-81 was designated as a high priority corridor, and his work to ensure that funding remained secure for Centro.

“We are very, very pleased the House – Senate Conference Committee has agreed to preserve the high density state funding formula,” said Rick Lee, deputy executive director of Centro. “Had this formula not been preserved, Centro would lose $2 million per year for six years for a total of $12 million. On behalf of all of our customers and our communities, I would like to thank Congressman Katko for his tireless effort to ensure these drastic funding cuts would not be included in the final transportation bill.  His leadership on the House – Senate Conference Committee was critical to his success in preserving this funding for all Central New York communities. Congressman Katko has been a longstanding leader in support of public transportation in our community, and our community is a better place for his effort.  Mr. Katko knows how devastating these cuts would have been to the people who rely on Centro to go to work, to provide for their families, visit retail stores and businesses, and gain access to healthcare.  He also understands Centro is the sole source of transportation for many persons with disabilities who live in Central New York.  Strong local economies are built on strong public transportation systems and thanks to Mr. Katko’s leadership we are moving in the right direction.”

“On behalf of the residents of the City of Oswego, I am both thankful and grateful for Congressman Katko’s hard work to ensure the passage of the FAST Act,” said Barlow.  “Addressing and investing in our infrastructure is essential to our long term economic health and vitality as a region and I look forward to the benefits it will reap for the city of Oswego.”

Oaks, who represents Wayne County and portions of both Oswego and Cayuga counties, said “This important legislation gives us the flexibility to help invest in Central New York’s aging infrastructure – including the many rural road and bridges that desperately need repair in Wayne, Oswego, and Cayuga counties.”

“This bill offers a measure of certainty and predictability needed as Central New York plans for its future,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “Making I-81 a high priority corridor stands to streamline the approval and funding process for this important community project. Additionally, this bill increases funding for mass transit – including critical support needed for CENTRO, and restores funding to the Ex-Im Bank, which will enable more businesses, especially smaller firms, to export their products and services. I am grateful to Representative Katko and Senator Schumer for their leadership and support of transit and infrastructure investments for Central New York.”