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Our nation’s diverse transportation infrastructure

Our nation’s highways, airliners, and rail lines are critical frameworks for interstate commerce and travel for consumer and freight transport alike. American seaports and inland waterways serve as critical points of global trade for vast amounts of bulk commodities for import and export.

Because supporting our nation’s diverse transportation infrastructure is so crucial to growing and strengthening our economy; I commend President Obama and Transportation Secretary LaHood for their bold vision to invest $53 billion in High Speed passenger rail over the next 6 years with the overall goal to link 80% of Americans within 25 years. I support High Speed Rail because broadening our passenger rail system will help take some pressure off of our increasingly crowded highways, as well as create thousands of jobs across the country and in Texas.

However, I do have concerns with the very real challenge of how the United States would pay for such a national system. Identifying a revenue stream for this nationwide project is essential and this endeavor would certainly require a strong private partnership with the industry in order to make it a reality.

Transportation in the 30th Congressional District has to be able to accommodate its growing population. I understand this continued challenge and have always worked to ensure that the city has the support it needs from the federal government to provide safe and efficient intermodal transportation among the metroplex and major airports.

Currently, the country is operating on a temporary extension of all federal highway aid, mass transit, and safety programs that expires in six months and these programs have been continually re-extended in short term increments since the last multi-year highway bill was passed in 2009. Additionally, the Highway Trust Fund, which is funded from a tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline, is projected to only be solvent until 2012 or 2013. Broadening this fund to cover high speed rail would stretch thinner our investment in our highway system.

Overcoming these challenges is going to require Democrats and Republicans working together in good faith and on a bipartisan basis with our president to create long term responsible transportation policies. These policies should not be limited to a long multi-year Surface Transportation Authorization bill for our rail and highways, but also include a responsible Water Resources and Development Act that adequately provides for our waterways and sea ports and implementing a national satellite-GPS based air traffic control system, known as NextGen under the FAA Authorization bill. I look forward to being a key voice in that debate and a leader for Texas.

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