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The nation's mayors yesterday called on Congress to pass a surface transportation funding bill that would support and improve roads, bridges and transit systems as part of a broader strategy to address inequality, close the wage gap and lift people out of poverty.Meeting in Boston, the U.S. Conference of Mayors Cities of Opportunity Task Force pledged to work together to urge Congress to move beyond partisanship and provide locally directed funding to address growing needs in cities where populations are steadily increasing, the mayors said in a press release."Mayors are on the front lines of combating inequality — and we know firsthand that transportation is central to that fight as the backbone of economic growth," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the conference chair. "Transit serves as a lifeline for so many, connecting those who need it most to jobs, school, and real mobility, while transportation infrastructure creates the good-paying jobs so many need."Mayors know how transportation systems and services can be used to create economic opportunity in cities, said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who serves as vice president of the conference."As we look to Congress, we renew our call for stronger federal resource commitments, with more emphasis on locally-directed funding, to improve our transit and street systems to better serve our growing metropolitan areas and confront income inequality," she said. "We cannot let the federal government off the hook in supporting us in meeting these critical challenges."