President Obama: Surface Transportation Reauthorization is Critical to America’s Future

The White HouseToday President Obama held an event at the White House urging a bi-partisan push by Congress to extend a critical piece of legislation — the federal surface transportation authorization.

On September 30, the current surface transportation authorization, which serves as the blueprint for transportation investment in America, is set to expire.  It is crucial that we maintain the current investment in the nation’s roads, sidewalks, trails, and transit ways in order to keep buses and trains running, and keep the people who maintain and drive the vehicles working.

In his remarks the President highlighted how essential infrastructure investments are to supporting America’s economic recovery, noting that Congress’ failure to extend the authorization would cost thousands of jobs. Additionally, a ten day delay in reauthorizing would result in a $1 billion loss (or $100 million for each day it is delayed).

PolicyLink applauds the President for recommending immediate renewal of the existing surface transportation authorization in order to sustain our existing efforts to connect Americans to opportunity.

Millions of Americans rely exclusively on public transit, walking, or biking to get to work, to the doctor’s office, to school, and to the grocery store. Nearly 20 percent of African American households, 14 percent of Latino households, and 13 percent of Asian households live without a car.

At a time when approximately 80 percent of transit agencies are implementing fare increases and service cuts, the nation must prioritize investment in transportation to ensure that Americans are not left stranded without transportation options.

Given that today marks 700 days since the existing surface transportation legislation expired, we urge the President and Congress to also work together to enact a new surface transportation authorization that:

  • Creates affordable transportation options for all people;
  • Ensures fair access to quality jobs, workforce development, and contracting opportunities in the transportation industry;
  • Promotes healthy, safe, and inclusive communities; and
  • Invests equitably and focuses on results.

This approach is both equitable and smart — for every $1 invested in public transportation, $4 in economic returns are generated.

Our nation’s very future is at stake.  We must make sure that our transportation investments help all Americans participate and prosper.

To support these principles and engage in activities to promote a more equitable approach to transportation investment, join the Equity Caucus at Transportation for America.

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