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Get the economy, and Congress, moving on transportation.

For more than a year, members of the 108th Congress have dabbled and dawdled their way through decisions about investing in our nation's transportation systems--decisions that could have a direct impact on the economy, jobs, traffic congestion, or homeland security.

It's time to demand real action on this essential priority--no more short-term extensions, endless debate, or partisan bickering,

It's time for Congress to approve a six-year transportation reauthorization for a host of reasons.

Transportation is vital for our economy. A six-year bill provides a steady investment in the economic infrastructure of America's hometowns, which are the local engines of the national economy. Transportation networks and infrastructure serve as the nation's circulatory system connecting commerce and consumers, work and workforce, family and friends. If we don't maintain and improve the health of this system, everyone suffers.

Transportation investment doesn't just create jobs--it saves jobs. We cannot afford to lose another construction season while Congress continues to talk without taking real action. If transportation construction projects currently in progress slow down or stop, it puts existing jobs at risk. And the longer Congress delays, the greater the risk to existing jobs.

Quality of life improves with better transportation. A better transportation system that reduces congestion allows everyone to spend more time connected to families, jobs and recreation, and less time tied up in traffic. It also helps to reduce pollution.

Better transportation systems improve homeland security. Effective transportation systems ensure that first responders can get where they need to go and also help move residents out of harm's way during emergencies.

And, this investment pays for itself. Revenue for TEA-21 comes from the gasoline tax, which puts aside funds specifically for these transportation projects. Every gallon of gas bought means more funds deposited in the federal bank specifically for transportation projects.

A strong federal-local partnership to improve the nation's transportation infrastructure is a win-win. It builds a stronger economy, provides jobs, and improves security and quality of life. And it pays for itself.

The last reauthorization bill, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), expired last year and the temporary extension ends on April 30.

To keep this nation moving in the fight direction, we must invest in transportation NOW. Let's do it fight with a six-year reauthorization bill NOW.

The 108th Congress shouldn't be allowed to take a bye on something that matters so much.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2004
Words:396
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