Sunday, January 27, 2008

Austin Commuter Rail

In response to "Money...Where??", I would say it's not going to efficient transportation infrastructure. As David mentioned in "A Better Way to Jumpstart the Economy", the infrastructure in the US is in desperate need of repair. The economy needs a boost to help morale and boost spending, especially since the buzz words in the media right now are "recession", "housing market decline", and "global warming". A tax benefit for everyone will help allay fears of a recession and global warming but when will we begin to look at the future?

Austin began looking into the future in the 1990s when the Texas Legislature approved the commuter rail district but without any type of funding. It wasn't until 2003 that the Austin-San Antonio Commuter Rail District was finally federally financed and in 2005, voters approved the fund allocation for a commuter rail which was originally planned to open in 2010. The commuter-rail will take residents as far north as Georgetown into central Austin and even down into San Antonio through the use of existing Union Pacific lines which keeps costs down. That is if the Austin-San Antonio district can find enough funding. Even though voters approved the plan, no money was actually allocated to the project during the last Texas State Legislature session. If the commuter rail district was federally financed in 2003, how come no money has actually been allocated to the project? An answer to Austin's congestion problem (one of many) has been planned and even partially executed, but now we sit and wait in the long line of congestion in the legislature.

Where is the money going? Into the pockets of oil companies and perhaps a small stipend back to our pockets, but not enough is going into existing and new infrastructure. Hopefully a closer look into our energy crisis will alert legislators that something must be done about our current transportation methods to limit carbon emissions, especially if Americans want to continue to live the suburbia dream.

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