In an attempt to galvanize support for long-term federal transportation funding, more than 350 organizations participated in more than 150 community events on “Stand Up For Transportation Day” in April.
The event, which was designed to heighten awareness about the need to enact a long-term surface transportation bill when MAP-21 expires at the end of May, was the initiative of American Public Transportation Association Chair Phillip Washington, CEO of Denver’s Regional Transportation District, who announced his vision at October’s EXPO in Houston.
“I was thrilled to see that people from all walks of life, in Denver and throughout America, came together to tell Congress that federal funding for public transportation is essential and they need to pass a long-term transportation bill,” Washington said. “This is a national movement, and we are not going away. Congress needs to act now to pass long-term, sustainable transportation funding.”
In Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach Transit CEO Kenneth McDonald was joined by several local and federal officials, including Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Congresswoman Janice Hahn (D-CA), Mayor Robert Garcia and Orange County Transportation Authority CEO Darrell Johnson, at two events.
“We’ve really been doing short-term fixes, kicking the can down the road, and all of whom support transportation know that it’s time now to deal with the issue,” said Congressman Lowenthal. “It is time to have a long-term funding for transportation that’s going to maintain our infrastructure and is going to allow us to have the funding security to begin to plan for new infrastructure, and without that, we are not going to be a world-class nation.”
Congresswoman Hahn added that she has been working with House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, who is determined to pass a long-term bill, and added that Congress needs to find smarter ways to meet the nation’s critical infrastructure needs then simply raising the gas tax.
“The American economy, our local ports and commuters, we all rely on the quality of our roads, our highways, our bridges and all the infrastructure throughout this country, that’s why events like this one are happening all over the U.S., people are standing up for transportation everywhere and our message is clear: Congress must pass a long-term surface transportation bill that invests more in our nation’s surface transportation infrastructure,” she said. “This investment is vital to the economy, it’s going to create millions of American jobs and it’s going to really strengthen and grow America’s middle class.”
Meanwhile in Las Vegas, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) hosted a press conference at their Sunset Maintenance Facility, where an 80% federally-funded Mobile Training Center is under construction.
At the rally, the RTC unveiled the “Unified Transportation Investment Plan Preview,” which was developed cooperatively with the state DOT and local metropolitan planning organizations. The preview compiles information from all of the agencies regarding the state’s infrastructure needs and ultimately, funding shortfalls. The entities continue to work together to complete a comprehensive, 20-year plan that will propose solutions to meet the identified needs and growing transportation demands.
“If Congress doesn’t act in a timely manner, the funding shortfall in our state will grow,” said RTC Chairman Larry Brown. “That’s why we are here today, uniting our voices with fellow Americans nationwide to support critical long-term funding.”
The RTC event, which was streamed live via its Facebook page and Twitter account, finished with guests wearing Stand Up for Transportation t-shirts and signing their names to show their commitment to Stand Up for Transportation on a specially wrapped RTC bus.
In March, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent a long-term transportation bill, the GROW AMERICA Act, to Congress. The proposal reflects President Obama’s vision for a six-year, $478 billion transportation reauthorization bill that invests in modernizing America’s infrastructure.