Below is sample language to adapt for letters or emails requesting that the remaining funding for I-3 and other similar earmarks be rescinded so it can be applied to more useful purposes. Please personalize the language and send it to your Representative and Senators, as well as your state legislators. To find out how to reach your federal legislators, click here.

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Dear_____:

In 2005, Congress passed a transportation funding bill, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which expired on September 30, 2009 but has not yet been reauthorized. Among the many specific earmarks included in SAFETEA-LU was Section 1927, which, in part, requires the Department of Transportation to:

carry out a study and submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that describes the steps and estimated funding necessary to designate and construct a route for the 3rd Infantry Division Highway, extending from Savannah, Georgia, to Knoxville, Tennessee, by way of Augusta, Georgia (formerly the Savannah River Parkway in the State of Georgia).

In Section 1702 of the same act, subsections 3236, 3405 and 3957 appropriate $1.32 million for the study. These dollars were augmented by the required 20% state contribution from the state of Georgia of $320,000 (North Carolina and Tennessee declined to participate and South Carolina was not asked) for a total of $1.64 million.

The study required by Section 1927 is now complete, and the Federal Highway Administration either has submitted or soon will submit the required report to Congress. The study has conclusively shown that the 3rd Infantry Division Highway, commonly known as I-3, will have unacceptable costs and impacts, and no further efforts to construct I-3 should be considered or funded.

The completion of the study leaves a budget dilemma, however. The contract price for the study was only $431,000, leaving an unspent balance of over $1.2 million in federal and state funds. By law, this funding may not be used for any other purpose unless Congress passes legislation freeing it up for other uses.

Section 1927 was only one of hundreds of earmarks included in SAFETEA-LU, many of which probably face a similar situation—the work for which funds were appropriated has been completed, but not all the funds were spent. Individually, these earmarks may not be for significant amounts, but collectively, they likely represent a huge amount of money that could be freed up for useful purposes, including maintenance and repair of our crumbling infrastructure or general deficit reduction.

I therefore urge you, when considering new transportation funding legislation, to comprehensively review, and rescind funding for, earmarks such as Section 1927 that are complete but have remaining unspent funding.

 

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