San Antonio Mayor Speaks Up for Cities on Capitol Hill

On Wednesday, March 13th, Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio, Texas testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on behalf of NLC. The following is a selected set of excerpts from the Mayor’s testimony at the infrastructure briefing: “Aligning Federal Surface Transportation Policy to Meet 21st Century Needs”. The briefing took place during NLC’s 54th annual Congressional City Conference (CCC).

I am honored to be here today on behalf of the residents of San Antonio and also the National League of Cities, the nation’s oldest and largest network of cities, towns and villages across America. Right now, there are over 2,000 local officials here in D.C. meeting with their Members of Congress to emphasize a simple message: invest in America’s infrastructure.

We believe that investing in infrastructure should be Congress’ top priority this year.

The challenges that cities and towns must confront are great and growing, but so are the opportunities for investment and innovation. We believe that the greatest opportunity in front of this Committee is to partner and to collaborate with America’s mayors and the National League of Cities to address our shared infrastructure priorities.

We believe that Congress should focus on three key areas – modern mobility, regional connectivity, and safety. Cities believe that the mobility of our citizens should be our new measure of success in the next reauthorization. This focus on mobility is to move people in the most efficient, effective and safest way possible.

Today the transportation marketplace is undergoing a technological revolution. From ride-sharing to e-scooters, entrepreneurs are innovating to meet the demand for more and better transit options. We believe in supporting innovation with reasonable rules of the road and by investing in infrastructure that’s durable and adaptable to the future.

In San Antonio, we’re working on a framework for modern mobility called ConnectSA. This initiative builds off past community planning efforts around land-use, busses, bikes and roads. The goal is to integrate our infrastructure investments to achieve a more efficient transportation network, that moves more people safely and effectively.

Our cities are rapidly growing, and we have to provide more transit choices to alleviate traffic congestion and grow our economy. The U.S. is now the most congested developed nation in the world, with Americans spending an entire work week each year stuck in traffic. In San Antonio, by 2040 we’ll add more than a million more people and with the additional cars we’ll lose yet another week per year stuck in traffic.

We have to be proactive in addressing this challenge. We need a federal partner that invests in regional connectivity to expand our economy.

Transportation is only as effective as it is safe. In addition to modern mobility and regional connectivity, safety is a top priority for our cities.

In the U.S., crashes and collisions on the roadways are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 5 and 24. This is an ongoing crisis that deserves more attention. Cities – along with our health professionals, safety workers, transportation leaders – believe that zero is the only acceptable number of deaths on our roads. Cites, like San Antonio, are leading Vision Zero efforts, but saving lives on our nation’s roads is a shared responsibility.

The cities and mayors of America are here to be your partners for progress on surface transportation. We urge you to make investing in infrastructure: modern mobility, regional connectivity and safety, your top priority.

America’s economy will move only as well as its transportation system. Our children and grandchildren’s quality of life depends on bold decisions by you and by me.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s full testimony can be read here, and the full hearing can be seen here.

The National League of Cities (NLC) thanks the Mayor for his leadership and for challenging Congress to join cities, towns and villages in efforts to rebuild and reimagine America’s infrastructure.