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Mayors Of Texas' Largest Cities Call On Congress To Pass $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Package

 AUSTIN, TX. Mar. 22, 2018. Cars and vehicle traffic on MoPac in North Austin.  Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT News
AUSTIN, TX. Mar. 22, 2018. Cars and vehicle traffic on MoPac in North Austin. Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT News

The mayors of ten of the largest cities in Texas, including Austin, are urging Congress to get an infrastructure deal across the finish line.

A bipartisan group of senators announced this week they've reached a deal on the proposal.

The White House says the $1.2 trillion package provides $110 billion for roads, bridges and other major projects. It would also invest $65 million to increase high speed internet access.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, the chair of Texas' Big City Mayors, called the package "a once in a generation investment" that will make Texas communities "more resilient, sustainable, and equitable."

Nirenberg said during a virtual news conference Friday he is encouraged by the developments in the U.S. Senate.

"Municipal governments have the unique responsibility of managing services and operations that affect our daily lives: commutes, clean drinking water, green spaces, and more recently pandemic response operations," he said.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler pointed out his city is especially interested in improving transportation infrastructure and measures like increasing access to public transit. He also said he is hopeful there will be even more funding in the future.

"But for right now, this bill, this time, will help us with those projects and other projects like broadband which we have seen during the pandemic is really an achilles heal in our community like so many others," he said.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the deal comes as cities are working to bounce back from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

"What is critical to the success of this bill is directing these funds directly to cities," Turner said. "This will bring project decisions closer to taxpayers and allow cities to design and implement projects that meet their specific needs."

Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said investing in infrastructure in Texas is vital as the state's population continues to grow rapidly, attracting people from around the country.

"We are holding up our end of the bargain through well thought-through bond programs and capital infrastructure planning in our cities but what we haven't had is a supplemental partner on the federal side and this is what this infrastructure bill really represents," she said.

Parker added that Fort Worth is the second fastest growing city in the United States.

"If we use these funds productively the opportunity is really to meet the needs now an almost million people in Fort Worth," she said.

Other leaders who are part of the mayoral coalition in Texas include Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz and Plano Mayor John Muns.

The infrastructure deal is a key part of President Joe Biden's agenda. The U.S. Senate and House still need to pass it.

Copyright 2021 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Becky Fogel is the editor and producer of statewide newscasts for the Texas Newsroom. She previously worked for the shows Texas Standard and Science Friday. She got her start in radio at KWBU-FM in Waco.