Traffic may get worse unless there are changes

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- When most Houstonians think of transportation and its importance to their lives they think of this -- traffic and crowded highways in need of expansion and work.

But that's only part of a much bigger picture In the Bayou City.

"It's got the port, rail, pipeline, highway, aviation, you've got it all when it comes to transportation," says Representative Bill Shuster, a Pennsylvania congressman and the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He held a round table discussion with business leaders and other members of congress on Tuesday morning.

"We have not made the investments we need to infrastructure," he admitted. "I believe the federal government should have a limited role, but one of the roles it should have is investing in infrastructure to make sure that we build a national transportation system."

It's not just about crowded, aging highways, and how we move from home to work or the store. But it's also the way goods move from place to place---directly impacting how much we pay for them.

"We're glad they're here," said Director of The Port of Houston Roger Guenther, a panel participant. "There are a lot of facets of transportation that we talked about today."

Houston's port, an economic engine which has ground to a stall this week after a collision between two vessels closed the ship channel, is just one of the cogs in a transportation wheel that needs attention and money.

"A lot of companies up and down the channel are investing billions of dollars in the channel," said Guenther. "So we must make sure that the channel is going to be there to meet the needs of navigation, safe navigation."

The stakeholders at the table represented all forms of transporting people and goods including Steve Bobb from BNSF Railway.

"Highways, water systems, in some cases even airports, connect our network to our customers' facilities," he said. "We touch every segment of the U.S. economy."

Their pitch to congress: help them help us. Houston congressman Gene Green, whose district includes part of the Port of Houston was listening.

"Transportation is what really created Houston," he said. "We need expansion of our highways, particularly because of the growth, but it also includes to port of Houston which has been limited because of the federal funding."

There were no solutions today at the hearing. But it's clear those in congress are keenly aware of the need for improved infrastructure at every level, especially here in Houston.

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