AP NEWS

Address the need for infrastructure investment

December 30, 2018

More and more, Americans are recognizing the need for renewed investments in our transportation infrastructure. Congestion is increasing; many transit systems are outdated and, as a result, suffering from a loss of ridership; and many of our bridges and roadways are in desperate need of repair or replacement. And with Texas in particular seeing a swiftly growing population, finding a steady stream of financial resources to make those investments is critical.

A robust transportation system improves the quality of life for everyone. With a significant surge of residents coming to Texas every day, we are seeing more vehicles on our already-congested roadways, hindering time with our families and creating a roadblock for the flow of goods that keeps our economy moving.

So it’s no surprise that on election night this past November, many Americans, including those in nearby Austin, voted to approve new measures to help fund transportation improvements. According to industry trade group American Public Transportation Association, a full 83 percent of transportation initiatives on ballots across the country in 2018 were approved by voters. It also mirrors the 81 percent of Austin residents who voted to approve Proposition G. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff have similarly proposed a transit referendum for the November ballot — or after.

Regionally, our the Chamber of Commerce in Austin has been at the forefront of key legislative issues and will be working with our elected leaders to keep a safe and reliable transportation network top of mind for the upcoming 86th Texas Legislature.

There appears to be movement from the federal government as well. Infrastructure funding is recognized as a priority in the newly bipartisan halls of Congress, which may seek to raise the federal gas tax. It is time the federal government caught up with the opinion of Americans, who recognize the need for new investments and are increasingly approving local measures to make up for the federal shortfall.

The state of Texas has a robust, growing economy, and keeping our residents and businesses moving must remain a priority to maintain our competitive edge.

With an encouraging sense of bipartisan agreement to move transportation forward, perhaps we will finally see a meaningful infrastructure bill in 2019.

Alastair Miller is the deputy office leader, Central and South Texas, of HNTB Corp., an architecture, civil engineering consulting and construction management firm. He can be reached at atmiller@hntb.com

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