Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to the Senate Budget Committee

(From Sec. LaHood’s Blog,  Fast Lane)

“Today I had the honor of speaking before the Senate Budget Committee about President Obama’s 2012 budget request.

“My message was simple: it’s essential to America’s economy that we find a way to repair our national infrastructure where we must and build for the future where we can.

“We all want a strong future for this country, our children and grandchildren.  We all want a transportation system that carries our goods and people as safely and efficiently as possible.

“And if we want to spur new business and produce new jobs, we must:

  • Invest in our roadways, railways, and runways;
  • Invest in 21st century transit like buses, streetcars, and light rail;
  • Invest in NextGen for our skies and in sidewalks and bike paths that make our streets more livable.

“And we’re working hard to make sure we get these things done in the most fiscally responsible way possible.  We’re dedicated to doing all of this without passing on another dime of debt to our children and grandchildren. For the first time, transportation spending will be subject to “paygo” provisions that ensure the dollars we give out do not exceed the dollars coming in.

“We’re also committed to ensuring we work as efficiently as possible.  So President Obama’s budget for DOT slashes red tape.  It consolidates more than 50 programs.  And it includes reforms that will accelerate project delivery and empower local communities.

“Of course, our major objective is to make investments in tomorrow that expand economic opportunity today–as the President said, to dream big and build big.

“By 2050, the United States will be home to 100 million additional people.  That is the equivalent of adding another California, Texas, New York, and Florida.  More than 80% of the newest Americans will live in urban areas. Communities will face transportation challenges that make anything we have faced in the past pale by comparison. And if we settle for the status quo, our next generation of entrepreneurs will find America’s arteries of commerce impossibly clogged.  Our families and neighbors will fight paralyzing congestion.  And American made goods will languish, unable to reach their markets.

“The Administration’s proposal tackles these challenges in three ways:

  • Creating a National High-Speed Rail Network:  The proposal places high-speed rail on equal footing with other surface transportation programs, with the goal of providing 80 percent of Americans access to an intercity passenger rail network, featuring high-speed rail within 25 years.
  • Rebuilding America’s Roads and Bridges:  The proposal will provide a 48 percent funding increase for road and bridge improvements and construction.  And it accelerates project delivery to get the benefits of highway and bridge investments to the public sooner.
  • Investing in Accessible, Affordable Transit Options:  The proposal will provide a 128 percent increase in funding for affordable, efficient, and sustainable transit options.  It includes an important new transit safety program.  And it allows transit authorities in urban areas to temporarily use funds to cover operating costs.

“All of the elements in the President’s proposal help our nation fix the infrastructure challenges we face now and will face in the coming years. But these measures also stimulate the economy by creating good jobs for Americans today and laying the groundwork for economic expansion tomorrow.

“The proposed 2012 budget is further proof we won’t be constrained to just dreaming big.  As it has always done, America will build big, too.  That’s how we win the future.”

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