Transportation Funding Bill Takes Important Step To Address National Park Road Maintenance Backlog

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Senator Lamar Alexander said the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a spending bill that takes an important step in addressing the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks — including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

He said, “Nearly half of the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks is roads. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 80 percent of the park’s maintenance backlog is roads. This bill takes an important step towards fixing some of those park roads by increasing funding for important road construction projects in our national parks. It is my hope that the Senate soon takes the next step and passes our bipartisan legislation to help restore and rebuild our national parks by cutting in half the $12 billion maintenance backlog, which would do more to restore national parks than anything that has happened in the last half century.”

Senator Alexander introduced the Restore Our Parks Act with U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Angus King (I-ME) on February 14, 2019. The legislation would establish the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” to reduce the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks by allocating existing revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury not to exceed $1.3 billion each year for the next five years.

Senator Alexander said, “This bill also provides critical funding for Tennessee projects and priorities – such as helping build roads and bridges, supporting housing needs and enhancing aviation safety at Jackson, Millington and Smyrna.

“Additionally, this bill includes funding for programs authorized in the Support for Patients and Communities Act – legislation I sponsored and President Trump signed into law to help states and local communities fight the opioid crisis. This funding supports a pilot program for recovery housing that helps prevent relapse and sustain recovery for those with substance use disorders.”

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2020 Transportation, Housing & Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which includes:

· $46.3 billion for the Federal-aid highway program to support road and bridge construction nationwide.

· $100 million for the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects (NSFLTP) Program, which provides funding for the construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of major projects on Federal or tribal lands. The program provides an opportunity to address significant transportation projects in our national parks, such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

· $1 billion for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants, which were formally known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants. The BUILD program awards competitive grants to communities in Tennessee and across the country to fund significant transportation projects, including highways and bridges, public transportation systems, passenger and freight railroads and port infrastructure.

· $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which provides funding to low and moderate-income communities to support economic development, housing and infrastructure needs in Tennessee and across the country.

· The bill fully funds the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Contract Tower Program, which will enhance aviation safety at Jackson, Millington and Smyrna.

The Fiscal Year 2020 Transportation, Housing & Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill is consistent with the spending limits included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 approved by Congress, and signed by President Trump, in August.  The legislation is now ready to be considered by the full Senate.


Tennessee Tourism Round Up: October Events

Tennessee Department Of Tourist Development Partners With Tennessee Craft Artisans In Tennessee Welcome Centers

Lake WinnepeSPOOKah Open Fridays And Saturdays In October


Fall brings crisp, cool air, apple and pumpkin picking, spine-chilling ghost & cemetery tours and festivals like the Reelfoot Lake Arts & Crafts Festival; Hatchie Fall Fest; Bell Witch ... (click for more)

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development , partners with Tennessee Craft to sponsor Craft Artisan Demonstrations in 12 Tennessee Welcome Centers during Tennessee Craft Week (TCW) Oct. ... (click for more)

Lake Winnepesaukah takes on a hauntingly surreal feel during Friday and Saturday evenings in October — WinnepeSPOOKah. Review for WinnepeSPOOKah: It’s hair-raising, Halloween fun for boys ... (click for more)


Travel

Tennessee Tourism Round Up: October Events

Fall brings crisp, cool air, apple and pumpkin picking, spine-chilling ghost & cemetery tours and festivals like the Reelfoot Lake Arts & Crafts Festival; Hatchie Fall Fest; Bell Witch Fall Festival; Southern Festival of Books; Goats, Music and More Festival; Days Gone by Harvest Fest; National Storytelling Festival; Mountain Makins Festival; Smoky Mountain Harvest Tunes ... (click for more)

Tennessee Department Of Tourist Development Partners With Tennessee Craft Artisans In Tennessee Welcome Centers

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development , partners with Tennessee Craft to sponsor Craft Artisan Demonstrations in 12 Tennessee Welcome Centers during Tennessee Craft Week (TCW) Oct. 4-13. Tennessee Craft Week focuses on craft artists across the state, magnifying the artisan legacy, and inviting guests to take home an authentic treasure each October. This 10-day celebration ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Thurman Says Discipline Real Problem In County Schools; Johnson Says His Focus Is Academic Improvement

County School Board member Rhonda Thurman said Monday that teachers are quitting the county schools because they face attacks from unruly students and they don't get backing from the administration. Supt. Bryan Johnson said, "We absolutely have challenges," but he said he puts his focus on academic improvement. He said a disciplinary committee meeting took two hours, and he would ... (click for more)

Eyewitness Account Given Of Murder Of Tracy Calloway, Though 4 Defendants Tried To Waive Hearing

An expressive witness, general disorder, and a circus-like atmosphere defined a preliminary hearing involving four men accused of the July murder of Tracy Calloway. On July 21, Antonio Watkins, 25; Prandel Reid Jr., 27, Gary Cross, 23, and Jamichael Smith, 26, allegedly drove up to Mr. Calloway’s residence and began shooting. Calloway, who was located in a white car parked in ... (click for more)

Opinion

Would Foreign Teachers Make Better Instructors For Inner-City Students? - And Response

It seems a week doesn't go by, sometimes more in one week, without Roy or someone writing some coded messages denigrating inner-city schools and the students (using another code-hint hint) that attend inner-city schools. Which reminded me of something from decades ago about teachers from foreign countries perhaps making better instructors for inner city students. At least those ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Same Ole ‘Bored’

As it just so happened, on the same day the Hamilton County School Board held a special two-hour meeting on Monday over disturbing disciplinary concerns among its 44,000 students, the Nashville Tennessean published a revealing report on school suspensions in the Nashville Metro Public Schools. After five years and a $2 million study, the results were available -- Nashville had launched ... (click for more)