Today the House of Representatives voted on its 33rd short-term funding measure for transportation in the past 6 years, and Americans will pay the price.
On the surface, funding transportation drop-by-drop might not seem like such a big problem. But it is, and the facts are unassailable. This era of short-term patches and chronic federal underinvestment has crippled America’s ability to build the transportation system we need.
This is not anyone's idea of the preferred outcome. And while we recognize that Congress needs more time to complete work on what we do want –a long-term bill that increases investment in our nation’s infrastructure, the White House has made it clear that this pattern of perpetual uncertainty must stop...
The light might be green, but no one's going anywhere.
Fast Lane readers know that public transportation provides support for millions of hardworking Americans trying to get to jobs, a doctor's office, school, and other key places. For some families, even a routine trip to buy groceries requires multiple transit buses.
And when bus service is less than reliable --a bus breaks down or is even just late enough that you miss the next connection-- it's not just an inconvenience; it's a hardship. And it's an obstacle to the basic struggle not just of trying to get a little bit ahead, but of simply trying to stay afloat.
So for folks in L.A. who depend on the bus, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (LACMTA) Division 13 Bus Maintenance and Operations Facility, a new, state-of-the-art facility that will significantly improve bus service in the heart of the city, is more than just a garage.
It's a lifeline, and it's exactly the kind of investment in public transportation infrastructure that we need to continue making...
Photo courtesy @MetroLosAngeles.
In the spirit of #InfrastructureWeek, it is important to recognize that the future presents a number of serious transportation challenges.
Our population is increasing, our roads are deteriorating, and as the President likes to say, “We have 100,000 bridges old enough for Medicare.” Congestion is choking economic growth and slowing job growth. Business owners are finding it harder to ship their goods, and folks are finding it harder to get to work. In fact, the New York Times recently reported that commuting time is the single largest factor when calculating the odds of escaping poverty. Never before has the connection between economic prosperity and transportation been so self-evident. So Congress must be acting to meet the needs of modern transportation, right? Think again.
Yesterday, Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, sent a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations expressing his concerns with the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. In his letter, Mr. Donovan made it clear that the bill proposed by members of the committee seriously underfunds important investments that are necessary to address the very real challenges of both housing and infrastructure.
I echo Mr. Donovan’s concerns...
In yesterday's #InfrastructureWeek edition of the Fast Lane, I wrote that even if Congress does manage to pass its 33rd short-term extension of our nation's transportation law, "the previous 32 short-term measures have all but stripped away the ability of state and local governments to complete big projects."
And this morning, I saw first-hand how our inability to invest adequately in transportation is affecting the everyday lives of people in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The nearly one million people living in the greater Knoxville area look a lot like the folks in communities I've visited across America. They're trying to get their children to school on time, get themselves to work, and get home for dinner. They're doing their part, trying to get a little bit ahead if they can, trying to ensure a better life for their kids.
But, short-term extension after short-term extension, their government is failing them. And exhibit "A" of that failure is the Alcoa Highway...
It's happening again. The May 31 expiration date for federal transportation funding is fast approaching.
Earlier today, I wrote to State Department of Transportation leaders, informing them that all federal participation in transportation infrastructure construction will stop if we reach that date without action by Congress. States will not be reimbursed for construction costs. They will not receive technical support. And, as construction season begins after a long winter, projects will grind to a halt.
Maybe Congress will act in time. But at best, they’re likely to pass another short-term extension, the 33rd such patch in the past 6 years. And at best, they’ll prolong a dangerous status quo of funding infrastructure at a level that has left our transportation system gasping for air.
That's why thousands of stakeholders across the nation are rallying for the 3rd annual Infrastructure Week to urge Congress to say “no” to more short-term measures and “yes” to a long-term solution.
I’ll be leading the charge with kick-off events here in Washington, DC, and a week of activities in Tennessee, Iowa, and California...
Photo courtesy of Eric Wagner (@WagnerEric), Bloomberg Government (@BGOV)
Fast Lane readers have probably noticed that traffic congestion is on the rise because of higher volume on our roadways, which means more stress on pavements. And because one of the Federal Highway Administration’s primary goals is to ensure the nation’s highway system is maintained in a state of good repair, that means greater stress on our resources.
But the longer lasting pavement sought by our Long-Term Pavement Performance research program would help state and local DOTs to stretch their budgets. It would also mean fewer damaging potholes for drivers.
At FHWA's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, we have a machine that specifically helps us understand pavement durability. It’s called the Accelerated Load Facility, or the “ALF,” and it does just what the name suggests: it simulates the effects of many years of heavy traffic in just a few months...
Fast Lane readers know that we've been talking about the Obama Administration's GROW AMERICA surface transportation proposal since we sent it to Congress last month. But a lot of Americans don't know what GROW does and why this nation needs it. So today, we've got a fresh out of the box explainer video to share.
If passed by Congress, the GROW AMERICA Act will provide 6 years of transportation funding certainty, increase investment in our transportation system, and implement smart policies that ensure taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck.
We think those long-overdue benefits are worth 101 seconds of your time, and we hope you'll agree...
Two weeks ago, we announced availability of our latest round of TIGER grants. But our obligation does not end there. We have a responsibility to ensure that America’s taxpayers get the best possible outcomes, and that means helping interested communities develop the best possible TIGER grant applications.
So today, DOT is gathering at our headquarters more than 250 grantees and potential applicants –with more than 500 viewing online. At this TIGER Summit, we will discuss the features of successful TIGER applications and projects, guide recipients to better implement TIGER grants, and prepare applicants to navigate the competitive TIGER process. Later today, we’ll also brief Congressional staff about the value of TIGER.
The Department goes to great lengths to select and invest in the best projects. But the best projects don’t automatically jump off the page in a grant application...
Every day, American companies ship cargo worth more than $5.5 billion through U.S. ports. That activity supports over 13 million American jobs nationwide. So it’s no secret that America’s ports keep America economically strong.
Since 1926, the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, has been doing just that, and they're ready to do even more.
Last week, I was at the port to help celebrate completion of the first phase of a planned railyard expansion. Fundedby a $10 million DOT TIGER grant and a public-private partnership, the expanded railyard will help the Port of Corpus Christi add capacity to meet growing demand, and it will improve the efficiency of existing cargo movement at the port. It will also take more than 600,000 trucks off the road, significantly reducing emissions in the area...
Yesterday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) formally introduced its new train cars at Metro's National Airport station.
The new "7000 Series" cars --made right here in the U.S.-- were not there to pick up passengers (that happens today!). WMATA had the new cars on hand to showcase their next generation features, many of which were designed with the input of WMATA customers and train operators.
The 7000 Series will provide a safer, more reliable ride for millions of passengers and help WMATA expand the Metrorail system’s capacity. That’s why the Federal Transit Administration has contributed more than $100 million to support this important upgrade...