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SENATORS COLLINS, SNOWE, AND SHAHEEN URGE TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY TO EXPEDITE MEMORIAL BRIDGE FUNDING

March 1, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (both R-ME) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today wrote to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to urge him to expedite the obligation of $20 million in TIGER II funding that was awarded for the replacement of the Memorial Bridge between Kittery, Maine, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. 

        In October 2010, Secretary LaHood visited the bridge to announce that the Department of Transportation (DOT) was awarding Maine and New Hampshire $20 million toward the cost of replacing the bridge.  On February 19, the House of Representatives passed a federal funding bill that includes language that would eliminate certain grant funds for transportation infrastructure projects.  This language could result in loss of the funds if they are not released by the date of the bill’s enactment.   The Senators have contacted Secretary LaHood to request that he work with local and state stakeholders to expedite the release of these funds.

        “Replacing the Memorial Bridge is an important infrastructure project that is crucial to the flow of goods and services in and out of Maine and for keeping and attracting new jobs to our State,” said Senator Collins, who is Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation.  “I urge Secretary LaHood to cut through the bureaucratic red tape that is impeding the release of these promised funds.”

        “The Federal Government made commitments to the people of Maine – as evidenced by Transportation Secretary LaHood’s personal delivery of the competitive Tiger grant award in October of last year - and should uphold these preexisting agreements," Senator Snowe said.  "As a senior member of the Senate Committee on Transportation, I will continue working with Secretary LaHood to improve the safety and efficiency of Maine’s infrastructure while protecting taxpayers from wasteful and unnecessary federal spending."

        “Reducing our deficit will mean some hard but necessary choices," Senator Shaheen said. "But we need to look for programs that are wasteful, outdated and unnecessary. Irresponsible cuts to funding for critical infrastructure, such as Memorial Bridge, will only take our economy backwards.”

The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Secretary LaHood:

            We write to request that you obligate the TIGER II funds for the replacement of the Memorial Bridge between Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine.

These TIGER II funds were appropriated through the fiscal year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Bill. You traveled to the site of the Memorial Bridge to announce the award for this project and you saw the current state of bridges that connect our two states and the dire need for a new bridge. The governors of both states are committed to funding their share of the project.

            Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a federal funding bill, H.R. 1, that included language that could eliminate certain funds for transportation infrastructure projects, including the replacement of the Memorial Bridge. It is unfortunate that the House never considered the impact this provision would have on the vital Memorial Bridge project.  This is a critical infrastructure project that is crucial to the flow of goods and services between Maine and New Hampshire and for keeping and attracting new jobs to our states.

           We ask that you work with Maine and New Hampshire officials so that the funds for this important project can be released. Thank you for your ongoing assistance with this issue.

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