The Road Well Traveled
San Antonio recently surpassed San Diego to become America's seventh most populous city. And the surrounding communities are growing as well. If we are to keep pace with this growth, our transportation systems must grow with the population.
Highways and byways are the backbone of this community. They keep us moving -- and they keep our economy moving.
I've talked about the need to improve our region's transportation infrastructure. And I'm glad to report that transformation is now under way.
Local governments are working to revitalize roads and modernize the public transit system. Working on their behalf, I have secured federal funding to help complete some of these projects.
One of these improvement projects is being conducting by VIA Metropolitan Transit. VIA's bus operations facility was built in 1948. They agency needs new technology and bigger facilities to handle expanded bus fleets and new, rapid transit bus service.
Several weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a transportation appropriations bill that contained $400,000 to help VIA complete these upgrades. The money I secured will be used to expand a vehicle maintenance facility and modernize the bus fare collection system.
The bill also contains $100,000 for construction of a pedestrian bridge to span the San Antonio River east of Main Plaza. The City of San Antonio will oversee the bridge project, which will link the historic Plaza to the new Drury Hotel and direct foot traffic toward key retail areas.
Another critical project is the expansion of Loop 410 which has been underway for several years. In October, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will begin working on 410 between Nacogdoches and Austin Highway. The work will expand Loop 410 from three lanes to 10 lanes, resulting in reduced congestion and improved travel time. By adding new turn lanes and off ramps, the expansion project will also make traveling safer.
Last fall's Transportation Equity Act contained $800,000 in funding which I requested for the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Communication Link. The funding will help establish a center-to-center communication link between Transportation Management Centers in San Antonio and other Texas cities. The ITS will facilitate traffic management advisories in and around the city. This capability is especially critical in times of natural disasters or emergency evacuations.
Our area is home to world-class military, research and tourism locations. Soon we will have a world-class transportation system to match.
While the roads and bus systems undergo a facelift, commuters' patience may be tested. Lane closures and road delays are inevitable. But there is a tool that can help us avoid these annoyances.
The U.S. Department of Transportation provides up-to-the-minute traffic reports for various regions. The Texas section of their website allows you to track traffic congestion in major metropolitan areas. It can even alert you to lane closures and traffic accidents. You can access this information by logging onto http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/tx.htm.