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Reactions to President Obama’s State of Union

Posted by Larry Ehl on Monday, February 18th, 2013

Transportation Issues Daily

A number of transportation interests issued a news release offering a reaction to the President’s State of the Union. Here are excerpts from ones I could find.

We republished Senator Boxer’s statement in full earlier.

Gregory E. DiLoreto, president of The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE):

“President Obama’s ‘Fix-It-First’ plan is a great step toward rebuilding America. Private investment along with political leadership can help our nation grow and create much needed jobs. First class roads, bridges, and ports will lead to first class jobs, homes, and lives for American families.

Rebuilding our nation’s roads, bridges, and water systems is not enough. We must have long-term plans for maintenance and repair, sustainable funding mechanisms that assure reliability, and the political leadership to invest in our own communities.” Read the entire statement.

 

Transportation for America’s David Goldberg:

“It did our hearts good to hear the President talk about creating a Fix-it-First program (where have we heard that before?) that will focus on the health of our infrastructure, such as the 70,000 structurally deficient bridges. As we’ve noted, there are more such bridges scattered around the country than there are McDonald’s, nearly one in ten bridges.

Transit systems, too, are suffering from decay after a long recession that saw budgets cut to the bone and beyond. Our ports and freight networks need help, too. So, again, we were very pleased to hear the announcement of a focus on the upkeep of our key transportation networks – helping to ensure repair of existing infrastructure remains a priority.

. . . .As the President said a well-maintained, multimodal transportation system will help improve America’s economic competitiveness. Business and Americans alike are demanding more travel options like high speed rail, better maintained bridges and transit systems, and more accountability. We hope that the politics in Congress have shifted enough to make increasing investment in balanced, 21stcentury transportation system more palatable.” Read the entire statement.

 

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Executive Director Bud Wright

“AASHTO salutes President Obama for again calling for greater investment in America’s infrastructure. Now we need to work together to tackle the most pressing issue facing our transportation system – how are we going to pay for it,” said Bud Wright, AASHTO executive director.

“We look forward to working closely with the Administration and members of Congress on legislation that will shore up the Highway Trust Fund with a long-term, sustainable source of funding to pay for the nation’s highway and transit programs. Funding transportation creates jobs, promotes continued economic growth, and gives state transportation agencies the resources necessary to maintain and modernize the transportation systems future generations will depend on.”  Read the entire statement.

 

Reconnecting America President and CEO John Robert Smith:

“We appreciate the President’s continued recognition that we must invest in our aging transportation infrastructure. The ‘Fix It First’ program he proposed will create jobs which are important to the success of our American families as well as creating safer rails, roads and bridges that are important to the success of our nation’s economy.  

“Recent figures show that China spends 9% of its GDP on infrastructure, Europe spends 5%, but the United States spends only 2%.  How do we remain competitive in a global economy without devoting the necessary resources to maintain and strengthen our infrastructure?  President Obama recognized this tonight and addressed it head on.  Reconnecting America stands ready to support him in this effort and is pleased that he is reaching out to the private sector for capital investment in a ‘Partnership to Rebuild America.’

“With the election behind us and the 113th Congress sworn in, it is time for our national leaders to act. No need to wait for the next natural disaster, the next hike in oil prices or the next bridge to collapse.  Our rail, transit and roads must be safe and reliable.  Restoring our commitment to a national transportation network is a necessity for America to prosper.”

 

Representative Peter DeFazio, longtime key member of the House Transportation Committee:

“Yeah, but let’s hope there’s a new emphasis on delivery here,” DeFazio said when MT pointed out the speech was mostly a repeat of past proposals. “We’ll see who the new secretary is. Fifty billion dollars is about one-tenth of what we need for a new emphasis on rebuilding our 20th century infrastructure and building out a world-class 21st century infrastructure. But at least it got a mention and I was really pleased he talked about minimum wage.” Source: Politico

 

Representative Earl Blumenauer, prominent advocate for infrastructure including transit and bike-ped programs:

“It was a welcome repeat that had a little more precision and it has a ring here where people are understanding that we’ve got this pent-up demand. I think it’s important that the president keeps at it, we’ll certainly try to support him. We’ve got a transportation bill that’s up in 18 months and that’s the way to keep the nation’s recovery moving,” he said. But what about revenue specifics? “Well, let’s see what comes with the budget. There’s so many moving pieces here that if they’re going to focus on it and use the levers available, I think we’re going to make some real progress.”  Source: Politico.

 

Patrick Jones, CEO and Executive Director of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association,

“An effective, national highway network is a cornerstone of any strategy that depends on quick, reliable transportation of people and goods. Yet our nation continues to confront a mounting crisis in transportation and infrastructure. By clearing the financial strain and physical congestion on our roads, the President and Congress can generate direct economic activity, while removing one of the biggest barriers to a sustained economic recovery.

“In a challenging fiscal environment, now is the time to explore the full toolbox of options for addressing the transportation funding crisis, and tolling is undoubtedly a part of that toolbox.

“Tolling generates needed revenue to support highway construction and maintenance, while easing the financial burden on federal and state governments. By delivering a dependable and sustainable revenue stream to support essential highway construction, maintenance and operations, the tolling industry is Moving America Forward to address the transportation.” Read the complete statement.

 

American Public Transportation Association President and CEO Michael Melaniphy

“President Obama’s call to undertake fix-it first projects for aging infrastructure, as well as invest in high-speed rail, underscores the critical importance of transportation.  Clearly, transportation is the backbone of a thriving economy that is essential to ensuring that the United States is globally competitive.

President Obama’s emphasis on transportation infrastructure reminds us of the past infrastructure projects that made America great from New York City’s Grand Central Terminal that is celebrating its 100 birthday this year, to the Transcontinental Railroad that was started under President Lincoln.  This generation of Americans must take up the challenge to make sure that America continues to be the land of economic opportunity.  Now is the time to look to the future, to ensure that America maintains its global competitiveness and its position as the country of economic opportunity.

Public transportation has an important role to play in promoting a prosperous and growing economy. The public transportation industry is a $57 billion industry with nearly 400,000 employees.  For every $1 billion invested in public transportation, 36,000 jobs are created and supported, not just at public transit systems, but also in businesses in the public transit supply sector.  Additionally, not only does investment in public transportation create and support American jobs, it also provides access to jobs. Nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are taken for work commutes.

Additionally, President Obama also spoke of the need for the United States to become energy independent.  Public transportation also helps in this endeavor as every year, U.S. public transportation saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline.” Read the complete statement.

 

American Road & Transportation Builders Association President & CEO Pete Ruane:

“We appreciate President Obama continuing to highlight the link between a strong, properly-functioning transportation infrastructure network and economic competitiveness.

His call for increased investment in roads, bridges and transit systems has been echoed repeatedly by scores of congressional leaders from both parties, the nation’s governors, and state and local transportation officials. Everyone is in agreement. So let’s use the opportunity at hand to start developing real solutions to address America’s infrastructure deficit.

An overwhelming majority of Congress voted last year to support final passage of the highway and transit bill, MAP-21. The law’s program consolidation, meaningful policy reforms and accountability provisions provide the foundation for building a much broader infrastructure investment package. MAP-21, however, only provided enough financial resources to maintain highway and transit investment at current levels for two years; a scenario that does nothing to reduce the increasing economic costs and personal toll from worsening traffic congestion.

Generating significant new revenues to complement to MAP-21’s reforms would spur economic growth and job creation, and improve the efficiency of the nation’s transportation network.” Read the complete statement.

The Sierra Club’s statement was mostly focused on the President’s climate change remarks, but did include this nod to fuel efficiency:

“we applaud [the President's] vow to prioritize innovative climate solutions, including  investments in jobs-producing solar and wind energy as well as a focus on energy and fuel efficiency. Read the complete statement.

Larry Ehl is the founder and publisher of Transportation Issues Daily. In the public sector, Larry was Federal Relations Manager for Washington State DOT; Chief of Staff to US Senator Slade Gorton; and was twice elected to the Edmonds School Board.

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