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Viewpoint: An American Rail Renaissance in Texas?


Martin Landry, VP of Business Development with ACCIONA's North American Infrastructure Division, explains the Biden Administration's promise to "Build Back Better" can be achieved with investments in rail and transit. Modernizing the transportation sector can slash pollution, while putting America back to work -- And Austin, Texas can lead the way.

America has waited a long time for a rail president. Under the Biden Administration’s recently unveiled infrastructure plan, communities across the United States have a real chance of getting the clean, modern and efficient rail and public transit systems they deserve.   Austin should be at the front of the line, with public-private partnerships leading the way.

The private sector is key to modernizing transportation. Think of all the innovations that have revolutionized transportation in recent years: electric vehicles, ride sharing apps, shared bicycles and electric scooters. None of these would have come about without private initiative and R&D.

Outside the US, public-private partnerships are marshaling both finance and innovation to modernize and extend public transit systems and build high-speed rail. These partnerships will be successful here as well, bringing proposals like Project Connect from the drawing board to reality.  

Austin knows the benefits. Modern, efficient rail services connect communities. They are big economic drivers, linking supply chains and moving goods for industries that support hundreds of thousands of jobs. By taking cars and cargo off the road, rail lowers planet-warming emissions and stretches the benefits of clean mobility beyond dense urban centers.

This is where the private sector can help. With interest rates low, pension funds and other institutional investors are keen to finance infrastructure projects that deliver long-term returns that match the long-term nature of their obligations. Increasingly, they are collaborating with specialist engineering and construction firms to deliver world-class transit projects from Vancouver to Dubai.

Across the globe, ACCIONA has been involved in some of these projects, Earlier this year, we announced that three stations that are part of a seven station metro project in Dubai were awarded LEED gold certification, making it one of the most sustainable transit lines in the world. Recently we started work on a similar project in Vancouver, BC, which will deliver clean, modern transit to one of that city’s most bustling neighborhoods.

President Biden’s Infrastructure plan promises to support projects that will expand transit into under-served communities, create good jobs and cut pollution. Capital Metro is ahead of the curve with a long-term plan that has shovel ready projects ready to for an influx of public and private investment.

Now is the time. On the campaign trail, then Candidate Biden promised to spark “a second, great railroad revolution” by building “the cleanest, safest and fastest rail system in the world.”  Now the proposal is here and will prioritizing projects, like Austin’s, that will reduce vehicle trips and slashing air pollution in overly burdened communities.  

The Biden Administration wants to revitalize transit and rail. It can play a key role in bringing the private sector together with Amtrak and state and local transportation agencies to develop strategies to deliver modern, safe, efficient rail and transit; in ways that drive investment, slash pollution, put people back to work so downtowns bustle again. Austin is ready.

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