Speech

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Atlantic Generations Forum

Secretary Ray LaHood

"Remarks as prepared for delivery"

Atlantic Generations Forum

Washington, DC

May 22, 2013

  • When President Obama first asked me to do this job, we had a lot of work ahead of us.
  • We were facing the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and our infrastructure was in need of repair.
  • Since day one, we’ve put people back to work rebuilding and repairing our nation’s transportation system.
  • In communities big and small, we’ve created more transportation options for hardworking Americans. Whether people want to ride a bike, hop on a train or catch a bus—we’re making it easier for folks to get around without depending on a car.
  • I’ve traveled to over 200 cities and all 50 states, and I’ve seen the progress we’ve made first-hand.
  • By working with local leaders, we are making our cities cleaner, greener, and more livable.
  • Our TIGER grant program has been one of the most successful ways we’ve worked with local leaders to create more transportation options. Over the last four rounds of TIGER, we have provided over $3 billion to support over 200 projects in all 50 states.
  • I’m proud to tell you we’re accepting applications for our fifth round of TIGER grants. We have $474 million available for projects that will make a difference.
  • Giving people transportation alternatives makes our air cleaner and our communities more accessible—and it’s good for the economy.
  • Time and time again, our investments have created jobs, promoted economic development, and helped us to compete in a global economy.
  • In Denver, the old Union Station is becoming a regional transportation hub and a focal point for development, including new housing.  
  • In Dubuque, Iowa, the city’s historic Millwork District is getting a chance to thrive as part of an ambitious sustainability initiative that is finding energy-efficient ways to convert old buildings into condos, offices, and retail.
  • Where we have invested in modern streetcars—in cities like New Orleans and Tucson—we’ve seen new businesses open up their doors, new residents move in downtown, and new life transform what was once a forgotten part of town.
  • Bike networks and bike shares are popping up in cities across the country—from Chicago to Boston to right here in Washington, DC. And everywhere they go—businesses flourish.
  • The point is this—transportation investments are good for our economy—now and in the future.
  • And by updating our transportation network, we make getting around safer for all Americans at any age—children, young professionals, and seniors.
  • This is particularly important now as many people choose to drive less.
  • Americans took nearly 10 percent more trips via public transportation in 2011 than we did in 2005.
  • We are also commuting by bike and on foot more frequently.
  • The millennial generation is leading the way, driving fewer miles than other generations and less on average than young people did a decade ago.
  • But all of this is good news for our aging baby boomers too.
  • According to AARP, 78 million boomers will turn 65 this year.
  • At DOT, we work hard to make sure that as our population ages, we’re giving them what they need and want, which is safe, reliable and convenient transportation options.
  • For example, as communities replace worn out signs and traffic signals, you’ll see larger signs with taller letters, signs placed in a way to give motorists more time to react, and even bigger lenses on traffic signals.
  • And there are adjustments are being made to pedestrian signal timing, to give older pedestrians more time to walk safely across a street.
  • These changes don’t just help older users of our roads. They help all users.
  • We’re investing in public transit in rural America and big cities alike—creating a real lifeline to medical care and other services for seniors and others who may not have another way to get around.
  • MAP-21, the transportation bill signed by President Obama last summer, provided more funding to enhance mobility for seniors and to ensure that public transportation projects meet the special needs of seniors and people with disabilities.
  • We’ve also helped fund an initiative through the National Center on Senior Transportation to increase options for older adults and make it easier for them to live more independently within their communities.
  • This is good news for seniors and their families. Most aging adults want to remain in their homes as long as possible, and if that’s not possible, they want to stay in their communities. We need to help them stay connected as they age. And that’s what livability investments do.
  • In order to build the transportation system of the future—we must also invest in the workforce of the future.
  • In transportation alone, we need thousands of young workers to replace aging baby boomers—
  • We need a whole new generation of highly trained specialists to design and build infrastructure that is greener, more efficient, and strong enough to meet the demands of our growing population.
  • Working together, we can build the best transportation network on earth.
  • The path ahead is not going to be easy. It requires us to be bold. But I know we can do it.  
  • And now, I am happy to take a few questions.

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Updated: Tuesday, June 4, 2013