Monday, April 25, 2011

Obama Says Nation Shouldn't Sacrifice Transportation Projects While Reducing Deficit.

President Barack Obama said this week he doesn't believe the United States should slash investments in transportation infrastructure while it strives to reduce the federal budget deficit.
"I'll tell you what I'm not going to do," Obama said Tuesday at the Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, not far from Washington. "We're not going to reduce the deficit by sacrificing investments in our infrastructure."
Obama struck a Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations agreement with House Republicans earlier this month that resulted in zeroing out of federal funding for high-speed and intercity passenger rail, an initiative strongly supported by the president. The bill also rescinded $400 million from the FY 2010 appropriation for passenger rail. (see April 15 AASHTO Journal story)
But Obama told the college audience this week, "We're not going to allow our roads and our bridges to grow more and more congested, while places like China are building new roads and new airports and thousands of miles of high-speed rail."
Obama linked the transportation spending to keeping businesses in the United States and generating jobs.
"We've got to make sure that America is built to compete," the president said. "We've got to have the best roads. We've got to have the quickest trains. We have to have the fastest broadband networks. That's who we are."
The president has proposed a $556 billion six-year federal surface transportation reauthorization level, but has not put specific suggestions on the table for what revenues should be increased to pay for such a robust investment level. (see Feb. 18 AASHTO Journal story)