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…
John Robert Smith, President and CEO of Reconnecting America and Co-Chair of Transportation for America, issued the following statement in response to today’s vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD):
Representative John Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced a far-reaching plan to privatize the Northeast Corridor (NEC) as well as intercity passenger and commuter rail service.
After receiving applications from half the states last month, the Obama Administration announced the winners of the High Speed and Intercity Rail grant program today. John Robert Smith, the President and CEO of Reconnecting America stated, "The vision created by these grants is one that should excite the American people. It calls for a high performance rail system that is reliable and competitive with the automobile and has the ability to reduce Americans' dependence on foreign oil."
The recently announced compromise to fund the federal government through the remainder of FY2011 preserves several critical programs, but also raises cause for concern. Reconnecting America is pleased to see that the compromise continues to support the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which is effectively coordinating federal housing and transportation programs to provide the greatest benefits at the regional and local levels. Programs such as DOT's TIGER grants and HUD's Sustainable Communities grants will save taxpayer dollars over the long-term by helping communities make better investments today.
However, the reduction in the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts/Small Starts program (see analysis of cuts here) and the complete elimination of the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program in FY 2011 is a step in the wrong direction. In this era of $4-a-gallon gas, Americans need more transportation options, not fewer. In…
Our founding fathers sparred over the federal interest in funding infrastructure. In fact, the battle over it helped jumpstart partisan rivalry in America. The Federalist Party—created by Alexander Hamilton—supported federal funding and support for “internal improvements,” which we know as infrastructure today. The Democratic Republicans—created by Thomas Jefferson—vehemently disagreed. The nation would have been vastly different, if not for the outcome of these earlier contests.
Today, in Philadelphia, Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, announced a $53 billion, six-year program to accelerate construction of the nation’s high-speed rail network. The plan calls for $8 billion in fiscal year 2012 to jumpstart the program.
Reconnecting America President and CEO John Robert Smith commended the Obama administration for the $2.4 billion in grants announced today for the development of high-speed and inter-city passenger rail corridors in the United States.
Reconnecting America applauds President Obama’s award of $8 billion for 13 high-speed rail corridors from California to Florida with the goal of creating a nationwide program of high-speed intercity passenger rail service. Reconnecting America has long advocated investments in intercity and high-speed rail lines to reduce dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to link people in urban and rural communities to economic opportunity.
President Obama announced his plan for a new national network of high-speed rail April 16, saying this investment is necessary to unclog traffic, reduce America’s dependence on oil, and improve the environment. The president cited the success of Europe’s high-speed rail, identified 10 likely rail corridors for funding, and said funding would come from the stimulus plan, as well as a five-year investment plan.