FEDERAL RAILROAD SAFETY IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - October 01, 2008)
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Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I thank my good friend and colleague from Texas. And I thank my good friend, the senior Senator from New Jersey, for his gracious remarks. I also commend the cooperation of both of these managers, together with Senators WEBB, CARDIN, and MIKULSKI, in bringing together in this bill the lifeline of the Metro system in the Nation's Capital. We are a region, and we speak for the District of Columbia, as spokesmen tonight, and for the States of Maryland and Virginia, all of which are essential partners in this system which supports this institution, the Congress.
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Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I am pleased to support the Rail Safety--Amtrak package under consideration today.
Of highest importance to me though is a much-needed authorization for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, WMATA, the metro system that probably brought a majority of our staffers to work this morning.
I thank the many Members with whom I worked to obtain passage of this authorization legislation, leading with my area colleagues, Senators WEBB, CARDIN, and MIKULSKI. I also thank the Commerce Committee leadership of Senators LAUTENBERG and HUTCHISON and the leadership of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Senators LIEBERMAN and COLLINS.
WMATA has been one of the greater metropolitan area's most successful partnerships with the Federal Government.
In 1960, President Eisenhower signed legislation to provide for the development of a regional rail system for the Nation's Capital and to support the Federal Government. Since 1960, Congress has continually reaffirmed the Federal Government's commitment to Metro by passing periodic reauthorizing bills.
Over 50 Federal agencies in the National Capital region are located adjacent to Metro stations. Federal agencies rely on WMATA to get their employees to and from the workplace year-round, in all types of weather.
Based on Metro's 2007 rail ridership survey, approximately 40 percent of respondents identified themselves as Federal workers who ride Metrorail to work.
We are talking about thousands of cars taken off the major roadways each day because of our area's metro system.
The Railway Safety--Amtrak bill includes funding over 10 years for capital and preventative maintenance projects for WMATA. This language was added by voice vote to the Amtrak bill by Congressman TOM DAVIS during the House's Amtrak debate this summer.
This critical investment will help provide for much-needed improvements to this stressed transit system. Projects such as station and facility rehabilitation, tunnel repairs, and addition of new rail cars and buses will help ease congestion during peak hours.
This legislation, which would authorize much-needed Federal funding, contingent on State and local dedicated matches, recognizes how vital Metro is to the region and the Federal Government. Let me repeat: these dollars will be matched by the Commonwealth of Virginia, Washington, DC, and the State of Maryland.
Such legislation is integral to the well being of the area's transportation system, as we struggle to address traffic congestion, skyrocketing gas prices, global climate change, and the local quality of life concerns.
From its inception, the Federal Government has played a significant role in funding the construction and operation of the Metrorail system. I hope this Congress will continue to show that support.