Targeted Investments in Safe, Efficient Transportation Will Spur Growth
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today said President Obama’s $129 billion budget for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the first year of a comprehensive six-year transportation plan, will lay a new foundation for economic growth and competitiveness by rebuilding the nation’s transportation systems, enabling innovative solutions to transportation challenges and ensuring the highest level of safety for all Americans.
“President Obama’s budget for the Department of Transportation is a targeted investment in America’s economic success,” said Secretary LaHood. “If we’re going to win the future, we have to out-compete the rest of the world by moving people, goods, and information more quickly and reliably than ever before. President Obama’s investments in rebuilding our crumbling roadways and runways, and modernizing our railways and bus systems will help us do just that.”
Nationwide, our transportation systems are already congested and overburdened. With the United States’ population expected to grow from more than 300 million in 2010 to more than 400 million by 2050, rebuilding and expanding the capacity of our roads, airports and transit systems is a strategic necessity for long-term economic growth. The transportation investments proposed in President Obama’s FY12 budget will put Americans to work repairing the bridges and repaving the roads we have now, while supporting the development of the new electric buses and high-speed rail lines of America’s future.
While these investments in transportation infrastructure and safety are critical, President Obama’s budget also reflects the need to live within our means. The budget proposal for the Department of Transportation consolidates unnecessary programs, institutes common sense government reforms, and cuts red tape. More than 55 separate highway programs will be streamlined into just five core programs, eliminating wasteful overlap and making it easier for communities to build the projects they need to spur economic growth. And by cutting inefficiency and bureaucracy, projects will be able to move forward more quickly, while still protecting public safety and the environment.
The Administration’s national high-speed rail proposal is a critical part of its vision for modernizing America’s transportation network. Last week, Secretary LaHood joined Vice President Biden to announce that the budget provides $8 billion for the first year of a six-year, $53 billion high-speed rail investment plan. The budget will place high-speed rail on equal footing with other transportation programs, revitalize domestic rail manufacturing, and ensure that the nation can reach President Obama’s goal of providing 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years.
The Administration’s six-year proposal will also provide $336 billion, a 48 percent increase over the previous authorization, to rebuild America’s roads and bridges, and $119 billion, a 128 percent increase over the previous authorization, in funding for affordable, sustainable, and efficient transit options.
In order to ensure that American businesses are equipped to out-succeed competitors around the world, the Administration’s budget also prioritizes innovative programs and technological solutions to address our transportation challenges. For the first time, the budget will establish a National Infrastructure Bank that will leverage private capital to build complex large-scale projects that hold significant economic benefits to a region or the nation as a whole. A new competitive incentive program, called the Transportation Leadership Awards, will reward unique projects that find new ways to connect people to opportunities and products to markets. The FY 2012 budget also includes $1.2 billion to modernize America’s air-traffic control system and help airlines transition from the radar-based air traffic control system of the past to the more reliable and more efficient satellite-based system of the future, known as Next Generation technology.
The new budget also reaffirms Secretary LaHood’s strong commitment to maintaining the highest safety standards for Americans traveling by any mode of transportation. While road, transit and air travel are currently the safest they have ever been in America, the Department will build on previous success to make it even safer. To accomplish that goal, the budget provides $50 million for the Department’s ongoing campaign against distracted driving, as well as $35 million to promote seatbelt use and get drunk drivers off the road. Also, for the first time, the Federal Transit Administration will be given the authority to oversee rail transit safety in cities across the country.