WASHINGTON (June 9, 2005) – Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., was chosen by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to be one of the select group of senators to negotiate a massive transportation bill that can pass both the House and Senate. The first official meeting of House-Senate negotiators took place this afternoon. Negotiators hope to have a bill to the president’s desk within the next several weeks. Both chambers this year have passed transportation bills to fund highway, transit and safety projects. The Senate-passed bill, which was approved in May, would authorize some $295 billion over six years. Under that legislation, Delaware would receive a total of $935 million, a 28 percent increase over the levels in the previous transportation bill, which expired last year. “This bill is important to Delaware and to the country, and I hope we can resolve our differences and get compromise legislation to the president’s desk this summer,” said Carper. “Delaware’s location along the Northeastern Corridor and the recent growth in Sussex County is putting more and more stress on our state highway system, and we need additional dollars from Washington to reduce congestion and keep our busy highways and streets safe for both motorists and pedestrians alike. The money will also go toward building a more-reliable transit system to help people get to work, go shopping or attend events across the state.” Among the transportation projects that could benefit from the transportation bill: · Improvements along the I-95 corridor, including increased capacity of the I-95/SR-1 interchange, the busiest interchange in New Castle County. · Replacement of the Indian River Inlet Bridge in Sussex County, which carries 16,000 to 18,000 vehicles daily. · Expansion of SEPTA service between Wilmington and Newark and potentially between Wilmington and Middletown in the near future. · Continued funding of welfare-to-work programs, like the one in Delaware that helps 3,000 welfare recipients without cars find alternative ways to work. · Establishment of a Delaware “safe routes to school” program that would improve the safety of kids who walk to and from school. The money would also help establish better crosswalks, construct sidewalks, and hire crossing guards.