Transportation for America Launches Legislative Campaign

T4_Build_for_America_Plan_Final.jpgToday marks the start of Transportation for America‘s "Build for America" campaign, which will work to influence the transportation funding legislation that goes before the next Congress in 2009. (You’ll be hearing a lot more about it here in the coming months; we have received a grant from the T4America campaign to kick-start the development of Streetsblog.net, a national network of transportation policy bloggers.) It’s a major effort to fundamentally change the way this country thinks about and finances transportation infrastructure — at the same time creating jobs, reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and helping the environment. Download a PDF of the plan here.

Yesterday, Shelley Poticha, Transportation for America’s co-chair, was joined by Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and others in a telephone briefing for reporters. She said the campaign aimed to challenge Congress to "adopt a bold new agenda" by shifting emphasis away from building new roads and onto expanding mass transit, maintaining existing roads and bridges, and focusing on sustainable development. "We need to invest in infrastructure that will get our economy moving," said Poticha.

The campaign’s five-point plan calls for Congress and the next president to:

  • Build rail and transit networks that are competitive with those in China and Europe, reducing oil dependence and connecting metro regions.
  • Invest in "the cleanest forms of transportation — modern public transit, walking and biking."
  • Adopt a "fix-it-first" policy to repair crumbling roads and bridges rather than building new ones.
  • Stop wasteful spending and re-evaluate projects that have already been approved.
  • "Save Americans money" by providing them with cost-efficient, sustainable transportation options where they live and work.

Asked about the political will to increase federal funding for mass transit in the current atmosphere of economic crisis, Gov. Rendell acknowledged it would not be easy. "Is there an appetite for it?" he said. "I’m not sure there is. Raising revenue is always difficult….We have to build the appetite. The movement has to start in the hometowns and move to Washington."

"Build for America" officially kicks off today with events in New York, Madison (WI), Chicago, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle. The New York event will be held at Grand Central Terminal at 1 p.m., near Vanderbilt Avenue and E. 43 Street.

  • With a Democratic president and congress, and with the widespread concern over global warming, this could be the turning point when we begin to undo the damage that post-war transportation and planning policy has done for the last sixty-something years. Streetsblog.net sounds great: I am glad to hear about it, and I will spread the word when it appears.

  • Boris

    Just out of curiosity, when was the last time a legislative campaign that wasn’t run by corporate lobbyists actually met its goals? The only thing that comes to mind is Carson’s Silent Spring, but that was an awfully long time ago.

  • This is what I’ve been saying to anyone who will listen for the past two years.

    I agree with Charles, transit advocates will have a tremendous opportunity after the elections this year . . . a Democratic wave sweeping over the federal government will give us an opportunity to completely reshape US transit policy.

    And with the economy sliding into a severe recession, bnow is the time for a major infrastructure investment program that will not only create jobs, but create the conditions necessary to our continued growth and prosperity as a nation.

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