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Texas U.S. Senator John Cornyn visits UTEP to talk transportation

Texas Sen. John Cornyn visited El Paso Monday. He was in town to talk about the borderland’s transportation challenges with experts at UTEP.

Cornyn said El Paso’s number one challenge is getting enough money for making border trade and traffic as efficient as possible. He said Texas only gets back $0.92 cents on every dollar sent to Washington as part of the gasoline tax. But new legislation could help supplement that money. Cornyn spoke with Mayor Oscar Leeser and former TXDOT Commission Chair Ted Houghton, as well as state Rep. Joe Pickett.

The senator toured UTEP’s Center for Transportation lab, where they test infrastructure material durability and develop techniques to make projects more affordable. Researching these new technologies is something the DRIVE Act would fund, which Cornyn talked about. The DRIVE Act is a transportation funding bill that cobbled together an additional $46 billion he said border cities, such as El Paso, could really use.

“Not only does El Paso have the unique challenges with roads and bridges. Its got a unique challenge with unique needs when it comes to making sure that we have our ports of entry and our transportation infrastructure developed and staffed in a way that keeps legitimate trade and traffic flowing, and growing our economy on both sides of the border,” Cornyn said.

The DRIVE Act passed the Senate, but not the House. If the two chambers can’t agree on the bill and fail to do anything, they may have to pass another short-term transportation funding extension in October, putting long-term projects in El Paso on hold.

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