Manor Expressway Project Keeps a Growing Austin Moving
As far as I’m concerned, there's never really a bad time to be in Texas.
And that's especially true in Austin, where great barbecue, live music, and high-tech jobs have kept people flocking to the region in recent years. In fact, according to Forbes Magazine, Austin is the fastest growing city in America this year.
But with all that growth can come some growing pains. And one example of those pains can be seen on US 290, east of downtown Austin.
Traffic on this important corridor has increased more than 78 percent since 1990. And that has left folks stuck in congestion, every day, as they travel to work, to school, and to run errands.
Luckily, things are looking up for local residents.
I visited Austin on Saturday morning to celebrate the opening of the new Manor Expressway –a 6.2 mile limited-access toll road that is tripling the capacity of US 290 between US 183 and SH 130.
The benefits of this project can’t be overstated. It will improve safety for drivers. It will reduce congestion –and vehicle emissions. And it will make transportation more efficient in Austin – creating jobs, increasing business opportunities, and improving quality of life.
I’m proud that DOT was able to help support this project through more than $120 million in Recovery Act and federal formula funding.
The fact is, these are the kinds of projects we should support. Projects that make a real difference in people’s lives –that let parents get home to their kids faster, and help a business deliver goods to customers.
But because of Congressional inaction, it’s becoming harder and harder to make these investments that are so important to our daily lives. The Highway Trust Fund will run dry as soon as August – and that will delay, if not completely shut down, essential infrastructure projects in communities around the country.
And the irony is, we’re letting our funding run out at the exact moment we need to be building more – not less.
The population growth we're seeing in Austin is going to happen in communties across the country in the coming decade. By 2050, America will be home to up to 100 million new people, and we’ll have to move almost twice as much freight as we currently do.
That’s why DOT is committed to finding a solution. And it’s why we recently sent our ideas to Congress as part of the GROW AMERICA Act.
I believe there’s a lot of room for agreement in the plan we’ve submitted – and I hope to see the House and Senate make serious program on a surface transportation reauthorization bill soon.
After all, for more than half a century, Congress has recognized that – as America grows – so must our investment in transportation. There’s no reason we can’t do it again.
And if anyone doubts that, there’s proof to be found in Austin.