TRANSPORTATION EQUITY ACT: A LEGACY FOR USERS -- (House of Representatives - March 09, 2005)
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Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Transportation Equity Act and urge swift passage of the measure. I would like to recognize the gentleman from Alaska (Mr. Young) and the ranking member, the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Oberstar), as well as the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Petri) and the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio), for their leadership in this historic bill.
Over the past couple of months I visited across the Third Congressional District of Colorado. From Grand Junction down to Durango and across the mountain to Pueblo, it is clear that rural America cannot afford to wait any longer.
For too long, Coloradans have put more money into the Highway Trust Fund than we have gotten out of it. As a Member of Congress, I have sworn to make sure Colorado receives its fair share of Federal tax dollars.
I am pleased with the progress that has been made on the rate-of-return issue. I thank the gentleman from Alaska (Mr. Young) and the ranking member, the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Oberstar), for coming up to compromise on this important issue.
This funding is necessary to invest back in our own infrastructure. Increased truck traffic from I-70 and I-25 all throughout my district has put additional strain on the infrastructure already at capacity and in need of much improvement. Many of us view TEA-LU as an investment, as a stimulus for economic development and agree that we should have a higher funding level. But the reality of the budget constraints have hit hard. Rural communities have suffered most.
This legislation is a fair solution, a compromise with the total of $284 billion in guaranteed funding, a 42-percent increase over the previous bill. With this new funding, we will create and protect millions of U.S. jobs within the transportation sector and related industries. It will allow us to direct critical resources to improve highways, roadways, and other forms of transit.
In Colorado alone, nearly 75 percent of the current interstate system was built before 1970, but our population has increased by 37 percent over the past decade, and we are projected to increase another 35 percent by the year 2020. Now is the time for us to start investing in the infrastructure that will bring and support growth.
TEA-LU is a bill that will touch people at all levels. It is about connecting communities. It is about ensuring that trade flows across this country and benefits rural communities.
I urge my colleagues to support the development of rural America and passage of this bill.
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