For immediate release, September 7, 2005
The Stop I-3 Coalition today called on Rep. Charlie Norwood and the rest of the Georgia delegation in Congress to redirect federal highway money where it is truly needed to rebuilding the Gulf Coast.
The coalition is dedicated to protecting the scenic, economic and ecological integrity of the Southern Appalachian mountains and stopping construction of a new proposed Interstate, dubbed I-3 by proponents, that would connect Savannah to Knoxville.
The coalition specifically called on Congress, President Bush and the administration to work together to redirect dollars from the recently enacted highway spending bill ($286.4 billion) to the massive infrastructure repairs needed in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Norwood is the chief proponent in Georgia.
Theres so much pork in that bill that they could easily put some of the taxpayer dollars to better use in the Gulf, said Lucy Ezzard Bartlett, a spokeswoman for the Rabun Chapter Stop I-3.
Bartlett specifically requested that the $1.32 million earmarked in the massive spending bill for a study of the proposed Interstate 3 be redirected as the first down payment to rebuilding the infrastructure of the Gulf states.
We are pleased to see that America is waking up to the huge humanitarian crisis caused by Katrina, Bartlett said. We also want our government to do what is right by its vital economic infrastructure. Take the I-3 money and put it towards fixing I-10.
John Clarke, chair of the Clay/Cherokee Chapter of the Stop I-3 Coalition, said much the same:
“The damage from Hurricane Katrina has made more people aware of the fragility of our fuel supplies. Congress should take another look at the assumptions it used it planning for new highways in the highway bill in light of the fact that dwindling oil supplies and rising prices in the next few decades will make it unnecessary to build many of the new road projects funded in the bill, including Interstate 3, he said.
America should look to improve its existing infrastructure and spend the money to make our roads, bridges, water systems, and pipelines safer, and to develop alternative fuels and public transportation for our future needs, Clarke said.Spending the money where it is most needed is just plain common sense in this case, and Americans will support that stand, Bartlett added. It simply makes more sense to properly maintain and rebuild what we already have, than to continually add more especially when the very expensive new highways are not wanted by the communities they would cut apart.
The Stop I-3 Coalition represents a growing confederation of community organizations and conservation groups located in the four-state Appalachian region (see www.StopI-3.org for details.) It is dedicated to stopping an unneeded highway that it believes would do irreparable harm to mountain economies, forests, farms, and streams, and to rural qualities of life rooted in a strong sense of place.