Wednesday, August 13, 2008

“Just the mention of toll roads in Texas is a call to arms. Texans are just not in favor of toll roads.”

Poe talks transportation issues at summit

August 13, 2008

By Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News
Copyright 2008

BEAUMONT — A day before he left for Afghanistan to visit the nation’s troops, U.S. Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas) visited Beaumont to talk about transportation issues affecting Southeast Texans and local industry.

Serving as special guest speaker at the Southeast Texas Transportation Summit, Poe shared his experiences on three subcommittees in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: Aviation, Highways and Transit, and Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

Poe said it was important that the Sabine-Neches Waterway be expanded, especially with the number of industrial expansions ongoing in the area.

Federal funding to deepen and widen the 65-mile long Sabine-Neches Waterway has not yet been appropriated because an Army Corps of Engineer study has been delayed, he said.

Though Poe has requested the study be expedited, he said federal funds would not be appropriated until the study is complete.

“In the end, I expect it will be favorable. We want this study finished by the time the next water bill is taken up,” he said.

With a price tag of $900 million-plus, Poe said he expects the project to be one of the top two on the bill.

The Federal Highway Trust Fund — derived from a gasoline tax imposed at the pump— is steadily decreasing because people are driving less and are driving vehicles that get better gas mileage these days, he said.

Congress could raise the gas tax, or institute toll roads to generate more money, he said.

“Just the mention of toll roads in Texas is a call to arms. Texans are just not in favor of toll roads,” he said.

Poe said he believed highway construction and maintenance money would be appropriated out of the general revenue from income tax funds.

On aviation, he said high fuel prices have the industry in shambles.

© 2008 The Port Arthur

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