Reconnecting America and Smart Growth America's boards and staff have recently completed a joint strategic planning process to evaluate how to have the most impact in advancing shared goals related to federal transportation policy reform. To that end, the boards of each organization have agreed to the full transfer of the Transportation for America Campaign, which has been jointly hosted by Reconnecting America and Smart Growth America, to Smart Growth America with the goal of consolidating the transportation policy advocacy work into one organization.
Chairman Denham, Ranking Member Brown, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am John Robert Smith, Co-Chair of Transportation for America, the country’s broadest and most diverse transportation coalition. Our members hail from the fields of transportation, housing, environment, public health, real estate, safety, and social equity, representing more than 500 different organizations. I am also the President and CEO of Reconnecting America, a national nonprofit that integrates transportation and community development. Reconnecting America is the managing partner of the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, which conducts research and promotes best practices in development along transit lines.
I would like to thank the Subcommittee for holding this hearing on the role of innovative finance in intercity passenger rail. Functional, safe, and efficient transportation systems are one of the cornerstones upon which this…
I commend the US Senate for its unanimous vote to confirm Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as the next Secretary of Transportation. Foxx will bring an invaluable perspective on the needs of local governments to the federal department responsible for transportation policies that affect every American.
Secretary Foxx understands that transportation comes in many modes, and that they're each integral to the economic strength of a region. As mayor, Foxx saw first-hand the role that transportation choices play as the backbone of economic development and the creation of resilient cities and regions. He made efficient and innovative transportation investment the centerpiece of Charlotte's job creation and economic recovery efforts.
Under Foxx's predecessor, Ray LaHood, the Department of Transportation partnered alongside the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to address the interdisciplinary challenges of housing, employment, the environment and…
I commend the leaders of the Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, Chairman Patty Murray and Ranking Member Susan Collins, for the passage of their bipartisan bill funding critical housing and transportation programs. The investments called for in this bill in our transit, rail, and road networks and in neighborhoods and communities across the country will strengthen America's economic resilience and improve the daily lives of millions of families.
Of particular importance are the HUD Integrated Planning and Investment Grants. The $75 million set aside for this program will support integrated regional and local planning for housing, transportation, and other infrastructure in urban and rural areas around the country. By coordinating regional investment and implementation strategies, this funding will help to create stronger communities for all while getting the most out of every dollar invested.
I am also extremely pleased to see continued focus on improving and…
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Today, transportation generally and passenger rail in particular, lost a dear friend and valiant advocate with the passing of New Jersey U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Of the many trusted relationships I have formed through my work in transportation, my association with Sen. Lautenberg is one of the most highly valued. As the mayor of my hometown of Meridian, Miss., I worked closely with Sen. Trent Lott in the support of a national passenger rail network linking America's cities and towns, large and small. It was in the thick of that effort that I got to know Sen. Lautenberg and first realized the strength of that national system, which served both small town Mississippi and the rural South, and metropolitan New Jersey and the densely populated Northeast.
It was my good fortune to work with two statesmen, one a conservative Republican from Mississippi, the other a liberal Democrat from New Jersey, who did not let party affiliation or geographic…
Statement of John Robert Smith, President and CEO of Reconnecting America, on the Administration's Proposed FY14 Budget:
"In the Administration's recently released budget for Fiscal Year 2014, we were pleased to see a call for continued investment in the infrastructure we need to provide all Americans with transportation choices. Taken together, the $50 billion investment upfront and longer-term initiatives like the National Infrastructure Bank are designed to improve transit systems, rail lines, roadways and bridges, and other transportation modes nationwide. Encouraging innovation is at the root of America's values, therefore the amounts set aside within the Department of Transportation's budget for competitive multimodal programs and initiatives to attract private investment are particularly noteworthy.
"These initiatives will build on the core programs that keep our transportation systems safe and productive. We are pleased that the President has requested full funding for…
Reconnecting America was honored to learn that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the Bay Area Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Fund (TOAH) as an honorable mention recipient of the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in the category of Programs and Policies for TOAH’s work to provide financing for affordable housing development and community services throughout the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
With this bill Congress had the opportunity to establish a transportation program that would support communities' efforts to become more sustainable and economically resilient. Unfortunately, the conference report missed this opportunity and is in many ways a retreat from these goals. While I am pleased to see that funding for public transit was preserved at current levels, rather than being cut by 30% as was proposed last year, and that some transit-oriented development (TOD) language was included, the bill could have done so much more to provide transportation choices for people in rural, suburban, and urban areas to connect them with jobs, education, healthcare, and opportunity.