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The Transit Advantage

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announces end of term

For the past four years, he has been advocating for high speed rail service, and expanding the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program that helped fund state road and bridge projects.

Based on his unwavering support and deep understanding of where this nation should be on HSR, infrastructure investment, job creation, and sustainable development, I say that Secretary LaHood is right on point and will be sorely missed. And, I strongly suggest that the Republican leadership read up on his perspective, take his comments to heart and ramp up to take the next step. The next step is to implement the vision there is no reason Congress cannot come together on this issue as it appears they are coming together for immigration reform.

In his exit interview with Huffington Post, he addressed a key concern: his concern over some members of Congress and lawmakers’ lack of comprehensive vision for infrastructure improvements and understanding about the risks of underfunding the country’s infrastructure future. Here’s an excerpt:

“I hope that since the election, people come to realize that if you really want to get America back to work and put people to work, you have to make investments in infrastructure… We are behind other countries because other countries are making the investments that we used to make. We got a two-year (highway) bill because they could only find $109 billion. We need to do better and we need to make sure that America does not fall further behind when it comes to infrastructure.”

Infrastructure transformation is not the only thing that is falling behind; LaHood expressed the same concerns regarding high speed rail nationwide, but he is hopeful for the future with President Obama in office. LaHood also actively supports initiatives on environmentally friendly urban transportation agendas, from allocating funds to trolley lines to advocating for bike lanes and cyclist rights on the road. He acknowledges that members of Congress understand people are ahead of the curve (and ahead of them) when it comes to wanting high speed rail solutions, livable, sustainable communities, and green energy. Eventually, LaHood says, Congress better catch up with its constituents or find itself falling by the wayside at the polls.