I appreciate the opportunity to share a few thoughts with the members of Transportation for America about our nation’s transportation future. Thank you for sending me your petition, and for supporting investment in infrastructure.
You’ve hit on one of the central challenges facing America now – how to convert this moment of crisis into a moment of opportunity. And I think you’ve identified an important part of the answer as well. Our economy is slowing down, we need to stimulate it. Jobs are disappearing; we need to create new ones. At the same time, our infrastructure is crumbling and we need to rebuild it.
Now is the time to invest in our future and strengthen our core infrastructure. You said we must build to compete in the global economy and fix what’s broken, and I agree. I’ll put two million more Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges and transit systems – because it is time to build an American infrastructure for the 21st century. Early in this campaign, I had already proposed creating a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank, funded with $60 billion over 10 years, to expand and enhance, not replace, existing federal transportation investments. Now, with unemployment rising, these investments are even more important.
You said we need to invest in green technology, and I agree. I will invest $150 billion over the next decade in renewable sources of energy to create five million new, green jobs – jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and fuel- efficient cars; jobs that will help us end our dependence on oil from Middle East dictators.
I support Amtrak funding and the development of high-speed freight and passenger rail networks across the country. As you may know, I cosponsored the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act in the U.S. Senate, and supported the successful effort to get this important legislation to the President’s desk this year. And I’m pleased that the President signed this bill into law just last week. I will also re-commit federal resources to public mass transportation projects across the country. I’ve worked to improve transportation access to jobs for people with lower incomes since my time in the Illinois State Senate, and I will continue this work as President. And I will further promote transit by creating incentives for transit usage that are equal to the current incentives for driving.
As you know, all of these measures will have significant environmental and metropolitan planning advantages and help diversify our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Everyone benefits if we can leave our cars, walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives. I agree that we can stop wasteful spending and save Americans money, and as president, I will re- evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account.
I will build upon my efforts in the Senate to ensure that more Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks. And as president, I will work to provide states and local governments with the resources they need to address sprawl and create more livable communities.
I encourage you to look at my positions and record versus those of Senator McCain. He has consistently fought federal support for Amtrak, including a vote against the package containing the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act that even President Bush was willing to sign this week. For decades in the Senate and as Chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee, McCain opposed capital funding for Amtrak time and time again and wanted to dismantle Amtrak entirely.
My running mate Joe Biden and I will provide better leadership that supports the priorities of your members, and we hope to have your votes on November 4th. Thank you again for the opportunity to share these thoughts with the members of Transportation for America. Together, we can create the changes we seek.
Barack ObamaThe timing to present this letter is a bit odd, perhaps the political nature of the second to last paragraph caused them to hold this letter back, but President Elect Obama has put some key promises forward, much of it absent from his campaign issues platform.