People in the Southland have some of the longest commutes to get to work of any part of Chicagoland. Even though this region is among the fastest growing in the country, our transit infrastructure has not kept up. The extended commutes and associated costs that residents of the Southland must pay take money out of the pockets of families that need it. It is critical that not only do we develop jobs throughout the Southland, but we also invest in more ways for people to get to work. Investing in transit infrastructure not only integrates the region with the broader economy of Chicagoland, but it also creates the jobs we need so much right away.
Transportation is also a critical economic driver in the Southland. Chicago is a critical transit center for agricultural and manufacturing products to every part of the country. The warehouses, railways, highways, airports and distribution centers that drive this activity support thousands of jobs in the region, and have the potential to support many more.
Every project I have worked on to invest in Southland infrastructure over the past few years has included a federal component, and I've been frustrated to watch as Tea Party Republicans have stood in the way of commonsense investment. I was frustrated to see Republicans earlier this year, for example, fight critical measures in the highway bill that would expand and support public transportation that benefits communities like ours across the country. The key to our long term financial health is investment in projects that expand commerce, support jobs, and help people get around.
In my time in the Senate, I fought hard to invest in transportation to boost the economy of the Southland. I am the chief sponsor of legislation to build the Illiana Expressway, the first east-west highway built in this state since I-80. I am fighting hard to extend the Southeast service Metra rail line, and I'm working to bring the communities in Will and Cook together behind a unified plan to build a third airport in the south suburbs. The Southland has roadways, waterways, rail lines, intermodals and airports. There is incredible opportunity to invest in our communities. In Congress I will fight to bring transportation funding back to our critical projects; from the extension of the CTA Red Line, to the construction of the Illiana Highway project, to the connections of rail to and highways to our intermodal facilities to finally building the third airport.