President Announces Vision for New Transportation System

September 13, 2010
Last week, as the economy continued to struggle, President Obama laid out his vision for renewing and expanding the country's transportation infrastructure system. 

The President's plan, which must be approved by Congress, features a $50 billion upfront investment to help jump start additional job creation and a long-term framework to expand and reform the nation's investment in transportation infrastructure. 

According to the White House, the long-term goals include: 

The establishment of an Infrastructure Bank to leverage federal dollars and focus on investments of national and regional significance that often fall through the cracks in the current siloed transportation programs; 

The integration of high-speed rail on an equal footing into the surface transportation program to ensure a sustained and effective commitment to a national high speed rail system over the next generation; 

Streamlining, modernizing and prioritizing surface transportation investments, consolidating more than 100 different programs and focusing on using performance measurement and "race-to-the-top" style competitive pressures to drive investment toward better policy outcomes; and 

Expanding investments in areas like safety, environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness and livability - helping to build communities where people have choices about how to travel, including options that reduce oil consumption, lower greenhouse gas emissions and expand access to job opportunities and housing that's affordable. 

In response to the President's announcement, NLC Executive Director Donald J. Borut said, "Because the nation's transportation infrastructure systems are essential to the economic growth and vitality of our nation's cities and towns, we applaud the President's announcement and look forward to partnering with the Administration and Congress to develop a new federal transportation program. This discussion needs to be a priority." 

As part of its meeting in Washington at the end of the month, NLC's Transportation and Infrastructure Services Steering Committee will be reviewing the President's proposal and meeting with Congressional and Administration representatives to discuss the local government perspective on a new transportation program.