Congress Stiffs President and Park Visitors on Park Roads

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   July 29, 2005
Contact:   Laura Loomis, NPCA, 202-454-3918, 703-447-6484 (cell)


Congress Stiffs President and Park Visitors on Park Roads

- Today Congress wasted an opportunity to make the roads running through our national parks better and safer for park visitors. By passing the long-awaited federal highway bill without the funds the parks need to dig out of their enormous backlog of road maintenance needs, Congress stiffed the millions of visitors traveling to our national parks as they embark on their August break.

The bill passed by Congress today provides the National Park Service with $1.05 billion to address park roads—nearly 75% ($600 million) below the increase the U.S. Senate and the administration said was needed in May. Simply put, Congress has failed the national parks.

It is estimated that roughly half of the National Park Service’s multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog is accounted for in road repair needs in the national parks. The enormity of the backlog means that even the funding for park roads recommended by the administration and the Senate would have fallen far short of meeting the entire need. But those proposals would have had a genuine impact in reducing the backlog. The paltry funding level in this bill virtually guarantees minimal progress in reducing the road maintenance backlog for years to come, because this small increase will barely enable the Park Service to keep pace with inflation.

More than half of the president’s pledge to eliminate the $4.9 billion backlog and to “restore and renew” the national parks hinged upon the transportation bill. Now that the opportunity to make real progress for the parks in the transportation bill has been lost, it is even more important that Congress seize the opportunity to pass the National Park Centennial Act, to give Americans a genuine say in protecting our national parks.

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