Transportation Secretary-designate Brock Adams vowed yesterday to review a series of agreements and promises made recently by the outgoing Ford administration.
At an unusually friendly confirmation hearing -- first for a proposed member of President-elect Jimmy Carter's Cabinet -- before the Senate Commerce Committee, Adams avoided making firm recommendations on controversial transportation issues.
Adams said he would "Review all we're entitled to review." possibly including Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman Jr.'s approval for a four-lane Interstate 66 through Arlington a highway up the West Side of Manhattan, promised aid for urban transportation in Detroit, superports in the Gulf of Mexico and installation of airbags in some cars in a demonstration project by automakers.
Concerning I-66 -- which Coleman approved with a proviso that Virginia provide aid for completing Washington's subway system that would include a subway line down the proposed highway's median strip -- Adams emphasized yesterday he favors winding up construction of the nation's full interstate highway system so attention can be given to other priorities.
If Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr. approves the Coleman plan and if the agreement helps complete the highway system without public damage, Adams said, he could support the project.
Adams did indicate some softening of previous opposition to reduction of airline regulation, however, and he said the Concorde supersonic airliner will continue to fly to Dulles International Airport until the completion of a 16-month test period that started last May.
The Democratic congressman from Washington State also acknowledged his support an that of Carter in the past for no-fault automobile insurance. But he told Sen. Warren Magnuson (D-Wash.), committee chairman, that the goo dand bad experiences of no-fault laws existing in 16 states require an updating of legislation previously considered by Congress to require federal standards.
"The evidence is clear that no-fault insurance is of great benefit to the consumer in avoiding costly and time-consuming litigatino . . . the diversity of state laws has, paradoxically, seemed to increase the need for a federal standard no-fault law," Adams said in written answers submitted by the committee before yesterdays session.
In his actual testimony, Adams added a cautionary note to any of his conclusions, such as those regarding no-fault. "I have not attempted to prejudice each proposition . . . since I do not yet have the benefit of the underlying factual data involved," Adams said.
In response to a question by Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.), Adams said he was unhappy with the rate of progress to date in spending money already authorized and appropriated --to help rebuild rundown rail facilities in the Northeast and Midwest.
A "top priority', Adams said, will be pushing the use of such funds to help Carter's program of putting more people to work.
He also supported "early action" on some form of users fee for oil consumers, to create financial resources with which to pay for clearing up oil spills.
"There is no single answer to tanker safety," he said of the recent rash of oil tanker accidents and subsequent spills. All proposals to increase safety of the ships have added costs and there is no agreement on the costs, which must be studied, Adams added.
The incoming secretary, who is expected to win early approval by the full Senate, also announced four key appointments yesterday:
Alan A. Butchman, currently the administrative assistant in Adams' congressional office, to be deputy Transportation Secretary. Butchman, who is from Massachusetts, worked for the Labor Department from 1966 to 1970 in Boston and Washington. He lives in Northwest Washington.
Linda Heller Kamm, general counsel of the House Budget Committee, to be DOT general counsel. A New Yorker, Kamm has worked for various Hill staffs since 1968 and was a Housing and Urban Development Department lawyer before that. She also lives in Northwest Washington.
Terrence L. Bracy, legislative assistant to Rep. Morris K. Udall (D-Ariz.), to be assistant secretary for congressional relations. Bracy, who is from Arizona, has worked on Udall's staff since 1968 and resides in McLean.
Chester Davenport, head of the Carter transportation and housing transistion team, as assistant secretary for policy and planning. The first black named by Adams, Davenport is a member of the Washington law firm of Hudson, Leftwich and Davenport and lives in Silver Spring.
Adams also filed a financial statement with the committee, showing a net worth of $153,202. He listed as assets two homes, furniture, three cars and 100 shares of American Telephone & Telegraph Col stock. Liabilities included two mortgage loans totaling $72,500 and loans of $3,021 for school tuition for his children.
Income tax returns for 1973, 1974 and 1975 showed congressional salaries of $42,500 for the first two years and $42,850 in 1975, plus honoraria, articles and lectures totaling $20,576 in 1973, $15,368 in 1974 and $17,824 in 1975, in joint returns with his wife Elizabeth.
total income and taxes paid for the three years were as follows: 1973 --$69,632 ($13,520), 1974 -- $59,624 $11,118), and 1975 -- $62,930 ($14,974).
Typical of the praise received by Adams yesterday was the commendation from Magnuson, who called the future DOT head "clearly the most qualified nominee for the post . . . that has ever come before the Senate."
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), taking note of all the predictions for the future "greatness" of Adams "and the large expectations the nation has for you," urged the new secretary to support construction of the $1.16 billion Westway, replacement of a dilapidated West Side Highway below 42d Street in Manhattan, changes in mass transit aid formulas to give New York more, and federal aid to such state-financed parts of the interstate highway system as the New York Thruway.
When Adams suggested that he would consult local and state leaders to determine priorities for such spending, Moynihan quipped: "A truly great secretary would find money for all."
On airline regulation, Adams told the committee that air carriers should be "given some flexibility in choosing markets they serve," that the industry and public would benefit from services by some airlines who want to enter the industry and that regulation has discouraged price competition and denied passengers lower fares in some markets while denying airlines the right to raise fares elsewhere, where needed.