WASHINGTON - U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., announced the initial approval of more than $500 million in new transportation funds to improve Oregon's highways and bridges, small airports, mass transit and offer new commuting solutions for low-income workers. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation approved the funds on Sept. 3 as part of the FY2004 Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Overall, the subcommittee recommended more than $374 million in federal highway funds for Oregon, earmarked more than $100 million for Oregon-specific transportation projects, and recommended more than $40 million in additional federal transit funds.

The bill would provide $600,000 to help replace three cracked and weight-limited bridges on U.S. 20 between Bend and Ontario. Oregon's small airports may also share a portion of nearly $12 million in federal funds for systems and equipment to track local air traffic.

The Transportation Appropriations bill must now be approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee, and then approved by the full Senate and the House of Representatives.

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