My pal Keith Jones is in attendance (I am too poor to attend these important out-of-town conferences) and sent a release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TO THE TEXAS TRANSIT ASSOCIATION
August 14, 2009
The 12th Annual Transportation Summit in Irving continues through Friday, but it has already made its mark by defining the important decisions faced not just in Texas but in the southwest region and the entire nation. The 2009 conference drew more than 1,100 participants from 35 states and 18 countries. Speakers have included the CEOs of the nation’s three largest railroads, the CEO of one of the largest airlines, Congressional and Senate leaders from Texas and beyond, local and state elected officials, the CEOs of 4 of the largest US transit operations including DART and FWTA, top officials of the FRA and the FHWA, leaders in High Speed Rail in the US, Spain and Japan, and many many others. There were also sessions on seaports, water infrastructure, and infrastructure finance. The leadership of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation participated in several presentations, along with representatives of the National Multi Modal Transportation Steering Committee.
The City of Irving hosted the conference and was joined by dozens of other Texas municipalities and counties, regional transportation agencies and multi purpose agencies, local governments and transportation agencies in other states, and scores of other financial partners. Dean International coordinated the 4 day conference with significant help from the Irving Chamber of Commerce and other agencies.
One easy conclusion is that there is widespread and deep interest in high speed rail in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and the rest of the nation. There is also a very good understanding that all cities will need a much improved public transportation system for high speed rail projects to reach their potential. The Summit has taken some big steps toward the development of a shared vision of what needs to be done to improve passenger and freight transportation and other major infrastructure components.
More information on the 2009 Summit can be found at
A Texas political blog, The Lone Star Report, has further coverage (and I apologize for not being there and catching up quicker. I am going to be a student for a while.) Our friend Arkansas State Rep. Steve Harrellson is quoted as part of the discussion of Texas’ difficulty in funding transportation.
He added that a 200-mph rail line linking Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio was considered in previous years and was estimated to cost $6 billion. He said Texas missed a big opportunity to lessen congestion on I-35 by not reserving funds for the project.
“Think about the difference to our economy if we had that system today,” Phillips said.
Harrelson, who called Texas’ flat motor fuels tax inefficient, proposed an indexed tax. Prior to that, he put things into perspective for the Texans present on stage with him, noting the $2 billion (out of $4 billion) of Proposition 12 funds recently released for highway construction purposes:
“That’s half our general revenue,” he said, meeting laughter.
Harper-Brown added that Texas’ revenue is in the neighborhood of $17 billion.