Extent: 1.25 linear ft.
Boxes: 46 - 47
Contents: Correspondence, memoranda, meeting notes, floor statements, fact sheets, hearings
and testimonies, news clippings, published reports.
Arrangement: Alphabetically by topic and chronologically within.
The Mass Transportation files date from the second session of the 98th Congress through
the 102nd Congress, spanning the years 1984-1992, and represent working files and reference
material maintained by Congressman Carper and his staff. The majority of the files deal with
highway and transit legislation from the 102nd Congress, signifying the importance of this topic as
well as the difficulty Congress and President Bush had in reaching a consensus.
Continuing a goal stated years earlier, the new legislation, H.R. 2950, variously called
Intermodal Surface Transportation Infrastructure Act of 1991 or Federal Transit Act of 1991,
promised dramatic changes in federal transportation policy, as the 44,328-mile Interstate Highway
System neared completion. The National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, with its
promise of linking the United States through a network of divided four lane, limited-access
highways, had embodied much of U.S. transportation policy since 1956.
This new legislation continued the tradition by retaining a role for the federal government
in the maintenance of the national highway system. One of the key things it did was to set up a
newly designated National Highway System composed of the Interstate network and primary
arterial roads. The inclusion of this system was one of the major components of the Bush
administration's transportation proposal.
The remainder of the legislation was to shift funding into the hands of states, allowing
them to decide what to do with their share of the approximately $151 billion bill over a period of
six years. The states were to divide $65 billion, but how exactly to distribute the funds became
the source of a great deal of tension between lawmakers as they were obviously concerned with
securing the greatest amount possible for their constituents. Ultimately, complaints about
distribution practices were resolved by putting aside long-standing formulas for dividing highway
funds, and allocation of resources in the form of lump-sum payments to states was decided on. In
addition, states were allowed a significant amount of latitude to decide whether to use the funding
they received for highways or in other areas of transit such as rail and bus systems, city planning
research, and van pickup/drop-off programs capable of aiding the elderly and disabled to secure
their daily transportation needs.
Also present in the Mass Transportation series are a number of files pertaining to the
airline industry. Of these, airline safety is one of the more important and the various groups
responsible for trying to ensure that flights are as safe as possible are examined. Articles, copies
of legislation, and correspondence regarding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) policies, air
traffic controller practices and hiring; prevention of terrorist attacks; and airport improvement
make up a majority of the aviation files. The December 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103,
over Lockerbie, Scotland, strikes by airline workers, and the merger of US Airway with British
Airways are covered through a significant amount of constituent mail and correspondence with
business leaders involved in each of the individual topics.
The airline industry underwent significant changes during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Fiscal concerns were high on the list of problems in the industry, as an unprecedented number of
airlines went out of business and/or filed for bankruptcy. These problems were compounded by
increased fear of terrorist action on international flights and safety concerns due to higher
incidence and media coverage of accidents; the consequence being fewer air travelers. As a
result, toward the end of Congressman Carper's time in Washington greater attention was being
given to this crucial branch of the transportation industry to ensure it remained secure and
profitable both for its own interests, for the American public, and the U.S. economy as a whole.