Transportation infrastructure is vital for the long-term growth of South Florida. I believe that reinvesting in needed repairs and modernizing our transportation planning are critical steps necessary to keep Florida's economy strong in the face of its dense population and ever-increasing traffic congestion. The demand on Florida's roads is continuing to strain our area's aging infrastructure. We must continue to make sure our ports, roads and railways can meet the demands of commerce, while we reduce our country's dependence on oil and protect the quality of life for South Floridians.
Because many areas are already built to near-capacity, we need to focus on smarter, more efficient transportation models. High gas prices and airfares and increased traffic congestion are hurting travelers and commuters, which is why reliable train and bus service is critical to continued development in South Florida. I strongly opposed Governor Rick Scott's decision to reject $2.4 billion in capital for a high-speed rail project in Florida that, in addition to easing travel throughout Florida, would have created thousands of new jobs.
I have long been a supporter of Tri-Rail and have worked hard to ensure that Tri-Rail receives federal funding to remain an important public transportation option in South Florida.
In addition, although major improvements have been made since the 1970s, more than 40,000 people die on the nation's roads each year and many more are injured; tragically, many of these deaths are completely preventable. We must take the necessary precautions to protect our drivers, which is why I consistently introduced legislation in the state legislature that would curb deadly driving distractions, such as text messaging.