As I’ve mentioned before, the Obama Administration is committed to getting job-creating projects funded and under way more quickly in order to put people back to work, and to restore some of the economic security that middle-class folks have felt slipping away for the last few decades.
Yesterday, DOT took an important step in this process when Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff signed two agreements providing $900 million to extend Houston’s light rail system by an additional 12 miles.
America's fourth largest city deserves a world class transit system that will meet the region's needs for the 21st century, and the investments we're making will help accomplish that.
Because everything's bigger in Texas, Administrator Rogoff joined an extraordinary group of state and local leaders who helped make this important day possible for Houston, including Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, U.S. Representatives Gene Green, Al Green, and Sheila Jackson Lee, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and officials from Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County.
These leaders know that light rail makes sense for Houston. The Main Street Red Line, Houston’s first light rail service, offers undeniable proof. This line carries an extraordinary 45,000 passengers per day--well ahead of expectations--making it the nation’s most heavily traveled per track mile.
The new light rail segments, the North and Southeast lines, are scheduled to open for service in 2015 and will provide alternatives to two congested highways, Interstate 45 and U.S. Route 59. They are expected to carry more than 58,000 riders on weekdays, including more than 13,000 new transit riders each day, by the year 2030.
And this crucial investment is putting people back to work right away. Already, 400 construction workers are back on the job, and 1,800 more men and women will be back on light rail jobsites in Houston within the next two years.
Light rail will also spur economic development. It will connect the places people live with the places they work, study, and shop. It will help entrepreneurs launch and grow businesses. It will create communities.
As Administrator Rogoff said, “The residents of Houston understand that good public transportation is key to building a successful, sustainable, and competitive environment to do business while creating thousands of good jobs along the way.”
It’s simple: if Congress passes transportation reauthorization or the transportation provisions in the President’s American Jobs Act, we can invest right away in many terrific job-creating projects like this one across the country, and millions more can enjoy the benefits we're helping to bring the people of Houston.