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Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow Americans all along the
Gulf Coast who are suffering through the horrible aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It is in times of great tragedy when the true spirit of our wonderful country unites as one. We will see to it that those individuals suffering the most right now are taken care of and provided the assistance needed to get back onto their feet. We will rebuild those great towns and cities. But this is no small job. We need the full resources of our government and the generous, compassionate spirit of the American people to get this done.
House Supports Emergency Funding for Gulf Coast Recovery Efforts
Congressman Jim Gerlach joined an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House recently in voting for a $51.8 billion emergency disaster supplemental bill to aid in the recovery and repair efforts underway in the Gulf Coast. The legislation provides $50 billion for Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund, $1.4 billion for the Department of Defense, and $400 million for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair damaged infrastructure.
“We will provide whatever resources are needed to help aid in the recovery and reconstruction of the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina,” Rep. Gerlach said. “This will be an expensive and challenging task but we are committed to getting it done. More
assistance will be provided in the weeks and months ahead as the full
scope of the problem is realized and we go about the business of returning that region to greatness.”
The legislation also adds some reporting and accountability provisions to allow Congress to conduct oversight over the expenditure of taxpayer dollars. These provisions are similar to what was included in the September 11th recovery packages and require regular and timely reports on how disaster funds are being expended. In addition, $15 million is provided within existing funds for the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security to monitor disaster expenditures by FEMA and other relevant agencies.
Gerlach Announces Funding for Lafayette Street in Norristown
Joined by state, county and local officials at the offices of the Redevelopment Authority of Montgomery County today, Congressman Jim Gerlach announced his procurement of $9.62 million in federal highway funds for the extension of Lafayette Street and its connection with the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
“This is great news for southeastern Pennsylvania and Montgomery County,” Rep. Jim Gerlach said. “This project will mean great things for Norristown as new shops, businesses, and homes will eventually flourish along a new Lafayette Street.”
According to the Montgomery County Planning Commission, the total cost of the Lafayette Street extension project is approximately $120 million and will include a partnership of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Turnpike and federal funds. The County is currently working with the PA Turnpike Commission to finalize its funding partnership for the remaining phases of the project.
With the federal dollars announced today, the County now has almost $22 million committed to finish the project’s preliminary engineering and final design work. The County is also able to get moving on the right of way acquisition and utility relocation work and then start the first phase of construction which is reconstructing existing Lafayette Street.
The County is scheduled to complete preliminary engineering by the end of 2006, complete final design by 2008, start the right of way and utility work in 2008, and begin the project with the reconstruction of existing Lafayette in the early part of 2009. County officials are hoping to have the entire project with its connection to the Turnpike and Route 202 completed by the end of 2012.
"This project is the keystone for the revitalization of our county seat." said James R. Matthews, Chairman of the Montgomery County Commissioners "The road access that this project provides will open up the riverfront for redevelopment and open space, and will open up the minds of developer's to Norristown's future."
Brian O’Neill, founder and Chairman of O’Neill Properties, which serves as the master developer of Norristown, said: “As one of Pennsylvania's great early industrial cities and the county seat of Montgomery County, Norristown serves as an important regional hub. We congratulate Congressman Gerlach as well as state, county and city officials for making this $9.62 million appropriation possible in their ongoing commitment to improving Norristown's future. The Lafayette Street extension will create a retail and residential corridor unrivaled in the eastern suburbs of Pennsylvania.”
“Passage of this transportation legislation, although a long time coming, means that many great projects get the funding needed to move forward,” Rep. Gerlach explained. “Not only will we improve the conditions of our roads and fund the busses and trains people we rely on everyday, but this legislation will help fuel the job market as its estimated that 47,000 new jobs are created for every $1 billion in transportation funding we set aside.”
H.R. 3 also authorized the Schuylkill Valley Metro project for final design and construction funding for fiscal years through 2009. The proposed transit project would extend passenger rail service along the Route 422 corridor, stretching from Norristown to Wyomissing.