TRANSPORTATION EQUITY ACT: A LEGACY FOR USERS -- (House of Representatives - March 09, 2005)
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Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Wisconsin for yielding me this time, and I appreciate his recognition of my home area of East Tennessee. Native Tennesseans are more likely to tell you they are from East Tennessee or West Tennessee or Middle Tennessee than they are the State of Tennessee, and I am very proud of my section.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this very important legislation which will improve our transportation infrastructure and create millions of jobs. Our chairman, the gentleman from Alaska (Mr. Young) and subcommittee chairman, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Petri), as well as our ranking members, the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Oberstar) and the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio), all good friends of mine, are to be commended for their great leadership on this bill.
Mr. Chairman, this is the biggest jobs bill that we will vote on in this Congress. Every day, when we are travelling, we see men and women working on our highways and mass transit systems. By increasing our investment in transportation and infrastructure, we are increasing our investment in American jobs. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that every additional $1 billion invested by the Federal Government in transportation creates over 47,000 new jobs.
While many of us would have liked to have seen a larger bill brought to the House Floor for consideration, this legislation will do so many good things. I also want to stress the importance of maintaining and improving our system of ground transportation in this country. No member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure wants to pave over every inch of this country. However, if we are going to reduce congestion, improve safety and have a system where goods can be transported to market quickly and efficiently, we are going to have to make an investment and have to make improvements in our infrastructure.
I believe the investment that this bill makes will help reduce congestion on our Nation's highways. One of our leading national magazines said recently that "congestion costs the Nation about $67 billion a year. Americans waste 3.6 billion hours and 5.7 billion gallons of gas sitting in traffic, all at an average cost of $1,160 per commuter year."
We also need to improve the safety of our roads so that we can save lives. Every 4 months, more deaths occur on our highways than have occurred in all aviation accidents since the Wright Brothers started flying over 100 years ago.
I know some people have expressed their concerns about increasing the funding for transportation and infrastructure. However, we are now spending billions of dollars on terrorism due to the actions of just 19 terrorists in 2001. I believe we should do everything we can to protect this country from terrorism, but I also believe you can go overboard on almost anything. The very respected National Journal publication has pointed out that we are thousands of times more likely to die in an automobile accident than by an act of terrorism.
We are currently spending billions and billions, hundreds of billions of dollars in other countries, through all kinds of foreign aid and activities. The funding contained in this bill comes from American highway users and should be spent here in this country. I do not have anything against helping other countries. However, I believe we can only continue to do this if we remain economically strong in this Nation. One of the keys to our economic growth in this country is to have a reliable system of transportation.
I am urging my colleagues to support this bill. If you believe in job growth, safer highways, economic stimulation, cleaner air, less congestion and a strong America, then you should vote for this bill. Mr. Chairman, this is a bill that helps the economy, it helps the environment, and it saves lives. I do not see how we could do any better than that.
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