Header for US Department of Transportation Blog

You are here

"America on the Move," looks at infrastructure investment, finds consensus

"America on the Move," looks at infrastructure investment, finds consensus

Yesterday, I was proud to represent DOT at an infrastructure conference, "America on the Move," hosted by Bloomberg Government (BGOV) and Building America's Future. It was my pleasure to join such other advocates for faster, stronger, and safer American transportation as U.S. Representative Bill Shuster, Chair of the House Transportation Committee; former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, and my dear colleague--and former boss--former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. I was there to share the priorities of U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, an equally staunch champion of improving the way we move our nation forward.

The most compelling thing I noticed at yesterday's meeting of the transportation minds was something that has been increasingly rare here in Washington, DC: general agreement. That's right; from both sides of the aisle, from the public and private sector, there is a strong consensus: America’s infrastructure deficit is real, and it’s growing.

Photo of Acting Deputy Secretary Mendez speaking at the conference

For nearly a decade now, we haven’t invested in our transportation systems like we should. The Recovery Act provided a tremendous boost, but the deficit far exceeded the scope of that stimulus. Our transportation infrastructure is crying out for investment, and as the President said in his State of the Union address last week, “First-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure.”

Of course, it’s hard to have a conversation about transportation investment without talking about funding. The good news is that we heard interesting ideas yesterday from Chairman Shuster as well as Gov. Rendell and Sec. LaHood--both of whom now represent Building America's Future. And there are other ideas in circulation on Capitol Hill, including President Obama's proposal to use the proceeds from corporate tax reform. So, we're committed to working with Congress to fund the transportation projects that will help our nation thrive in the 21st century.

However the funding is generated, it needs to be part of a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill, and we need to pass one for rail, too. Everyone from our state departments of transportation to the contractors who can create jobs across this country to the workers who need those jobs--they're all looking for certainty.  But if you're looking for certainty, you can’t find it in another two-year bill. And it was encouraging to hear that same idea echoed by every one of yesterday's speakers, including Chairman Shuster, who said, "We don’t want a two-year bill, we want a five- or six-year bill."

Photo collage of aging U.S. bridges, courtesy of Business Week

Now, while funding is important, it’s only part of the conversation. Secretary Foxx and I believe we’re missing out on a huge opportunity to improve transportation if we don’t make the most out of every dollar we receive.

And if we’re going to get more big projects off the ground--if we’re going to attract private investment to those projects--the Department of Transportation has to lead by example. That’s why we’re doing everything possible to work better, faster, and smarter for the American people.

We’re taking action in every area of the Department. From streamlining our permitting and environmental review processes, to cutting down on paperwork for truckers, to accelerating the construction of highway projects with the best practices found in our Every Day Counts program, we are setting a pretty good pace for innovating toward greater efficiency.

By pairing this spirit of efficiency with a long-term transportation bill that includes robust funding, we can do more and build better, creating a transportation system that connects people across America with economic opportunity and a better quality of life.

 
VIctor Mendez is Acting Deputy Secretary of Transportation.

Post new comment

Comments

Dot subsidizes Amtrak, WMATA and MTA by way too much. It's simply pathetic. Philadelphia is and always will be the original US Capitol. There is no need for a silver line extension in dc. There's no need to give one penny to MTA as they suck too many tax dollars out of ny state. They should be ineligable for any federal grant of any kind because any federal money going to this wasteful agency is money in the toilet. Mta is horribly managed, they have no concept of cutting costs, or scrapping duplicate branches of subway Which aren't ridden, and there's many of those.... There shouldn't be more than 3 "LIRR" lines going through Long Island. There's 9 or ten. Wasteful. People don't need that at all. That money could be used to replace trolleys that are over 30 years old in Philadelphia which is a better city anyway. It could be used to create a new subway there which they desperately need. It can be used to buy new railroad cars which they need too. Mta has enough. I'm tired of seeing New York get away with murder like this. They are nothing special. They're the worst transit agency I've seen on my entire life and SEPTA is the most efficient one. They have buses that are running on defunct trolley lines. This should not be the case. SEPTA should have money to buy trackless vehicles to once again run on Route 79 and 23. Being in civil engineering, I can say SEPTA is the most efficient. They should be awarded the Capitol funding to be the very best. I guarantee you they won't waste a dime. Mta has old subway cars they bring out during the holidays. Last I checked, a transit agency is not a museum. Mta should not get public money to run old subway cars which by the way are non Ada compliant. They should not pay their workers to work on these pieces of equipment either. See how deep the fraud and waste is in ny? Invest. Heavily in Philadelphia. We need our trolleys back, we need more subways, and we need new railroad cars and an extension of the high speed line. If ny needed it, you'd give it to them. PHL, a better city with a better transit system which isn't wasteful, should be no different.