Indiana is known as the "Crossroads of America." With hundreds of thousands of people from across the country passing through Indianapolis via road, rail and airplane, I know that improving the transportation infrastructure of Indiana's Seventh Congressional District is of paramount importance.
That's why I fought for a seat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the nation's transportation infrastructure--including highways, transit, aviation, rail and waterways. Less than 6 months after joining the Committee, I was honored to become the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management. I also serve on the Aviation Subcommittee.
My membership on the Transportation Committee allows me to help modernize transportation in Indianapolis and throughout the country, while also spurring job creation for working families. Each year, the Committee considers legislation directing billions of dollars in transportation projects and dictating policy on everything from transportation safety to vehicle fuel economy to disaster relief. The Committee's decisions result in jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans and billions of dollars in commerce, both from construction and from transportation of goods by highway, rail, water and air.
I was proud to support the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) in the Transportation Committee and on the House floor. This was one of the first major bipartisan bills passed by the House in some time.
WRRDA is important for Hoosiers because it reauthorizes programs that keep our waterways navigable, ensure that dams and levees are operating in a safe manner, and maintain and improve the ports that our companies rely on for international trade. While I was unsuccessful in my push to include stronger environmental protections during consideration in the Transportation Committee, I am pleased that the bill followed the traditional bipartisan process that allowed each member to provide input. Following a conference committee to resolve differences with the Senate, President Obama has signed the bill into law.
As Ranking Member of the Emergency Management Subcommittee, Congressman Carson joined Full Committee Chairman Shuster, Full Committee Ranking Member Rahall and Subcommittee Chairman Barletta to introduce the first ever reauthorization of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This critical bill improves our nation's emergency management capabilities, modernizes and strengthens critical components of our preparedness and response system, and supports emergency response personnel.
PROMOTING TRANSIT MODERNIZATION, ACCESSIBILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY
If all Americans used public transportation for only 10% of their daily travel needs, the United States could reduce its dependence on foreign oil by 40%, while cutting emissions and reducing congestion on our roads and highways. Unfortunately, our ongoing economic downturn has forced many public transit providers around the country to make cutbacks and delay expansion just to maintain service.
I believe that public transit is absolutely critical, both in Indianapolis and around the country, which is why I authored three pieces of legislation that will help transit providers continue service while pursuing long overdue growth.
The Community Transit Promotion Act, H.R. 3019, helps non-profit community organizations qualify for the funding they need to provide transportation to seniors, those with limited means, and those with disabilities in areas IndyGo does not cover.
The Modernizing Public Transit Act, H.R. 3020, promotes transit investment, including expansion of bus routes and construction of passenger rail lines. Under this bill, Indianapolis will no longer be at a disadvantage when applying for transit grants simply because our population is spread over a broad area.
And finally, the Protecting Transit Through Increased Flexibility Act, H.R. 3022, recognizes that even with a more robust system, transit providers may still face budget shortfalls in the future. This bill provides the flexibility to use federal funds to maintain service for riders and lessen their worry about cuts to the routes upon which they rely.
Our city deserves to have a modern, affordable and reliable public transit system. I will continue to advocate in Congress for legislation that will help us achieve that goal.
MAINTAINING OUR ROADS, HIGHWAYS AND BRIDGES
Maintaining our roads, highways and bridges is absolutely critical. It not only creates jobs through construction and other related fields but also encourages professionals and entrepreneurs to locate in our city, allows lower cost shipping to and from local businesses, and reduces commute times for local workers. In short, a quality road system is one of our strongest economic drivers.
Since my election to Congress, I have repeatedly voted for critical funding to help the State of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis repair our aging roads, highways and bridges. Unfortunately, one of our best options for making true improvements to our transportation system has been blocked by partisan games. We need to pass a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill immediately so that cities like ours can begin making the improvements that will attract employers and put Hoosiers back to work.
PROMOTING RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE
Geographically, Indianapolis lies roughly halfway between Chicago and Louisville. The close proximity of these major metropolitan areas led me to successfully work with the Transporation Secretary to have the Department of Transportation officially designate a high speed rail corridor--making it eligible for future federal funding. In addition to creating thousands of high paying jobs, such a high speed rail line would boost commerce and tourism and reduce congestion on Indiana highways. Going forward, I will continue to press DOT and my colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to make high speed rail a reality in Indiana.
While I am a strong support of high speed rail, I understand how critical it is to maintain and expand our conventional passenger rail capacity. I have always been a strong advocate for Amtrak and legislation that creates jobs at the Beech Grove facility. This included the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, through which Beech Grove was awarded over $32 million to continue servicing the Amtrak rail system. I was proud to join Vice President Joe Biden in announcing this award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. This influx of funding created over 80 jobs and has helped put our Amtrak facility on track to service America's needs well into the future.
ENCOURAGING ALTERNATIVE FORMS OF TRANSPORTATION
Across Indianapolis, a growing number of people are walking or biking to get around instead of driving. This not only reduces time spent sitting in traffic--it promotes fitness and reduces emissions. In recognition of the need to expand our system of urban paths and trails throughout Downtown Indianapolis, I worked with Mayor Ballard to secure $20.5 million in federal funding for the completion of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. The connectivity provided by the Cultural Trail is expected to have a total economic benefit of more than $800 million and will create more than ten thousand jobs--all through direct construction, private sector investment and an expansion of tourism.