Published on : Saturday, January 11, 2014
The guiding principle of a new federal surface transportation investment program must focus on national priorities, connectivity and economic growth, Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said during a speech today at the National Press Club.
“The Highway Trust Fund is dead. We need to be thinking about how to replace it with a surface transportation program for the 21st Century,” he stated.
The current authorization for surface transportation programs – a two-year stopgap law
known as MAP-21– expires this year, providing an opportunity to create a new framework for federal transportation investment.
Boardman said the notion of a highway program must be replaced with a new, balanced
Transportation Trust Fund for projects that are truly national in scope and responsibility, and generate policy outcomes the nation needs.
He explained that a balanced program can provide investment in any surface mode–
including Highway, Transit, and Rail (both passenger and freight)–and would unshackle transportations planners, system Users, and other decisions makers from simply chasing mode-restricted dollars and instead ask them to produce results that matter to tha nation.
“A world-leading economy today requires a world-leading transportation system that
strengthens the whole network and recognizes and supports the unique roles each mode plays in supporting interstate commerce,” he said.
He stressed that every program, every investment must provide for national connectivity
and the overarching objective of transportation policies and infrastructure investments must be America’s economic future. He noted America is not making the investments needed for growth and improvement, and is just barely keeping the existing system going.
“If we treat the issue as ‘what do we do within the existing structure,’ we will all lose –
nothing worthwhile will change. The questions we as Americans must answer are ‘How do we redefine the approach to federal transportation investment to ensure it is focused on truly national needs? How do we recapture the national vision and purpose of the Interstate era?’” he asked.
“We are facing a real challenge and the bankruptcy of the Highway Trust Fund is just the
tip of the iceberg. It won’t be easy, but if we strive in good faith, we can find a way through to a solution that will give America what it needs,” he said.
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