The Build for America Plan: Invest in Transportation, Create Jobs

t4a_jsk.jpg
Janette Sadik-Khan, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Lee Sander. Photo: Paul White.

The Build for America campaign officially launched yesterday afternoon at Grand Central Terminal, one of six events held in cities across the nation. DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan — joined by MTA chief Lee Sander, U.S. reps Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, and a bevy of advocates — advanced the case for committing ambitious levels of federal support to modernizing the nation’s transportation system.

"America’s transportation system is facing a perfect storm of huge costs, declining infrastructure, dwindling resources and dependence on foreign oil," said Sadik-Khan. "And while we’re struggling just to fix and maintain our roads, our global competitors are building systems that we simply don’t have." The United States does not have a high-speed rail system, she added, and the nation’s transit systems are struggling just to keep up with ridership demand.

Most speakers hewed to an economic argument: Federal investment in
transportation infrastructure can create
jobs as the nation faces the prospect of a deep recession. Investing that money wisely, they said, requires re-orienting spending priorities away from new highway construction and toward rail and transit.

Noting that federal spending on infrastructure has declined since 1980 from 3 percent of GDP to 1.8 percent, Nadler set a target allocation of $500 billion for the next multi-year transportation spending package (the previous package authorized $248 billion over six years). "If we do it right, it will help us get out of the very deep recession we’re going into," he said, placing an emphasis on investment in passenger and freight rail. "If we don’t do it right, it will make the recession deeper and reduce our competitiveness."

New York has a lot riding on the re-authorization. With the MTA facing a funding crisis, Sander painted a bleak picture of how the city’s transit system may deteriorate without more federal support, invoking its sorry state in the 1970s and 80s.

"The resurgence of New York is very much linked to the improved performance of the MTA," he said. "We will not be able to maintain this success without a renewed commitment from our funding partners, including the federal government. You can be sure that one finding of the Ravitch Commission will be that we cannot succeed without a strong federal bill."

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

At Grand Central, Sen. Clinton Calls for Funding Mass Transit

|
Clinton was joined by (l-r) Larry Hanley, of the Amalgamated Transit Union, NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and MTA chief Elliot Sander Surrounded by a throng of curious commuters under the clock at Grand Central Terminal last Friday, Sen. Hillary Clinton held a press conference calling for increased federal funding for mass […]

A Transit Miracle on 34th Street

|
NYC DOT is proposing to turn Manhattan’s 34th Street into a river-to-river "transitway." In what she half-jokingly called "probably the first-ever co-presentation" between their two agencies, Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan stood with New York City Transit President Howard Roberts earlier this week to unveil the city’s current Bus Rapid Transit program in its […]

The 2013 NYC Streetsies, Part 3

|
Happy New Year, and welcome to the third and final installment of the 2013 NYC Streetsies, also known as the Streetsblog Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Lifetime Achievement We take it for granted these days that NYC DOT is primed to make change happen — that every year, the department will roll out a fresh new […]

Sadik-Khan: NYC Bike-Share Will Launch May 27

|
At city council hearing, DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan announces that Citi Bike will launch on May 27. — Streetsblog New York (@StreetsblogNYC) May 9, 2013   It’s official. America’s largest public bike system will launch Monday, May 27, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced at a City Council transportation committee hearing this morning. According to the Citi […]

NYC’s Next Transportation Commissioner Is Polly Trottenberg

|
Bill de Blasio has appointed US DOT Under Secretary for Policy Polly Trottenberg to lead the New York City Department of Transportation. Trottenberg is a veteran federal policy maker, whose resume includes stints working for New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan on the 1998 federal transportation bill and for Senator Chuck Schumer. At the Obama […]

DOT Deploys “Street Safety Managers” to High-Volume Bike Routes

|
Wondering what’s up with the people holding stop signs in the bike lane today? NYC DOT’s press office just sent out this explanation: New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced that DOT Street Safety Managers (SSM) are assigned to key bike and pedestrian corridors and bridge paths in Manhattan to […]