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The mayors of West Texas came on strong with state leaders Thursday to stress how their local economies rely on sound transportation systems. “Our community continues to grow, our work force is here and will continue to grow,” Amarillo Mayor Debra McCartt said. “Our rail, air and roads are the main reasons why that is. But as fuel costs … and other expenses go up … that’s going to become more of a challenge.”

Elsewhere, problems in rural road funding were the impetus behind Club 20, a 55-year-old organization of governments on Colorado’s Western Slope. In Pennsylvania, conflicts between rural and urban regions grew acrimonious earlier this year.

With rising gas and diesel costs generating declines in driving, fuel tax revenues, which fund highway improvements, are down dramatically. “Traffic gridlock is commonplace in Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio and is likely to gain much of lawmakers’ attention as they consider how to divvy the state’s transportation budget.” The mayors foresee that allocations favoring cities may stall ongoing road projects in West Texas.

(For a respite from money problems, listen to Robert Earl Keen singing “Amarillo Highway,” a “dust-bowling” tune by Lubbock-native Terry Allen.)

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