Coalition of Mayors Urges Increased Transportation Investment

Failure to Increase Infrastructure Investment Has Led to Nearly $900 Billion State-of-Good Repair Backlog, D+ Infrastructure Rating, and Greater Number Deficient Bridges than McDonald’s
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo by Kevin Case, Creative Commons License)

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo by Kevin Case, Creative Commons License)

As Congress debates the transportation reauthorization bill, Mayor Bill de Blasio is leading a coalition of 73 bipartisan mayors from across the country urging federal investment in cities’ transportation and infrastructure needs through a multi-year bill that increases funding for vital infrastructure, such as subways, buses, streets, bridges, rail, and ferries, says a press release issued by the City Hall.

Since 2009, federal infrastructure funding has remained stagnant – with major consequences. Today, the U.S. has a D+ infrastructure rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers; it has fallen from first in the world when it comes to economic competitiveness to twelfth; and the country has a greater number of deficient bridges than it does McDonald’s restaurants. In fact, the United States is spending a 20-year low of 1.7 percent of its GDP on infrastructure – while China spends 9 percent.

Yet the current House bill wouldn’t just keep investment flat – it would cut funding for transit in New York City by $80 million a year, for a total of $480 million over the six years of the bill.

According to the news release, in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, the mayors highlighted continued risks to national productivity and competitiveness posed by a failure to increase investment.

“Congestion costs the U.S. economy over $120 billion each year. Since the last long-term surface transportation bill was enacted in 2005, the economic competitiveness of U.S. transportation infrastructure has fallen from first in the world to twelfth. If the status quo continues, deficient transportation infrastructure will cost American businesses $430 billion by 2020,” the mayors wrote. “Our nation’s urban areas house more than 80 percent of our nation’s residents, and if we are to thrive, Congress must step up and make investments in our cities, towns, and suburbs.”

Increased investment would help cities around the country address the nearly $900 billion highway, bridge, and transit state-of-good-repair backlog and bring the United States more in line with its international competitors.

For example, $100 million in additional funding for projects in New York City could support 1.75 billion annual subway riders, resurface approximately 400 lane miles, implement Vision Zero safety improvements at approximately 50 schools, replace a Staten Island Ferry vessel, or help maintain safety and state of good repair of the City’s 789 bridges (over 160 of which are over a century old).

“This is not a partisan issue,” the mayors wrote. “Deficient bridges exist in red and blue districts all across this country. Many city and state leaders, Democrats and Republicans, are already stepping up and committing more local funds. However, without a strong federal partner, the twin demands of maintaining existing infrastructure and preparing for the future are beyond the means of any city.”

The full letter from the mayors can be found below:

November 17, 2015

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
1233 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
233 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Harry Reid
Democratic Leader
U.S. Senate
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Speaker Ryan and Leaders McConnell, Pelosi, and Reid:

Mayors from across the nation are encouraged by your progress providing certainty for the surface transportation program, which is the backbone of the American economy. As you conference the transportation bill, the “Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act” (H.R. 22), we urge you to increase federal highway, transit, and safety program funding for cities and their regions to levels significantly above baseline. While long term certainty is important, federal funding for transportation must increase for cities and their regions to continue to maintain and improve our nation’s critical infrastructure.

America’s economic strength depends upon our cities, towns, and suburbs having the transportation networks they need to attract and retain businesses and provide opportunities for residents to prosper.

Crumbling roads and failing transit systems translate to gridlock and constrained growth. Businesses face declines in productivity, seniors cannot make doctor’s appointments and commuters are late to work. Worse, some jobs are left unfilled as workers are left without adequate transportation options to access employment.

This is not a partisan issue. Deficient bridges exist in red and blue districts all across this country. Many city and state leaders, Democrats and Republicans, are already stepping up and committing more local funds. However, without a strong federal partner, the twin demands of maintaining existing infrastructure and preparing for the future are beyond the means of any city.

Current federal commitments are insufficient to maintain, much less enhance, our transportation network. Throughout our nation, public transit maintenance needs exceed $86 billion and the highway and bridge repair backlog is an estimated $808 billion. Yet, since 2009, federal surface transportation commitments have remained stagnant. In addition, short term transportation authorizations and patches create uncertainty and increase risk, further increasing project costs. We simply cannot afford continued extensions of the status quo.

We commend the leadership of the transportation committees and Congress for taking a very important step toward a long term bill. Without it, we risk reducing national productivity and competitiveness relative to our global competitors. Congestion costs the U.S. economy over $120 billion each year. Since the last long-term surface transportation bill was enacted in 2005, the economic competitiveness of U.S. transportation infrastructure has fallen from first in the world to twelfth. If the status quo continues, deficient transportation infrastructure will cost American businesses $430 billion by 2020.

Our nation’s urban areas house more than 80 percent of our nation’s residents, and if we are to thrive, Congress must step up and make investments in our cities, towns, and suburbs. We appreciate your action as we work together to meet the long-term transportation infrastructure needs.

Sincerely,

Mayor William A. Bell, Sr. – Birmingham, AL
Mayor Jerry Nabours – Flagstaff, AZ
Mayor John Giles – Mesa, AZ
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild – Tucson, AZ
Mayor Robert Garcia – Long Beach, CA
Mayor Libby Schaaf – Oakland, CA
Mayor Kevin Faulconer – San Diego, CA
Mayor Sam Liccardo – San Jose, CA
Mayor Miguel Pulido – Santa Ana, CA
Mayor Helene Schneider – Santa Barbara, CA
Mayor Patrick J. Furey – Torrance, CA
Mayor Christopher Cabaldon – West Sacramento, CA
Mayor John Suthers – Colorado Springs, CO
Mayor Bill Finch – Bridgeport, CT
Mayor Tomas Regalado – Miami, FL
Mayor Buddy Dyer – Orlando, FL
Mayor Frank Ortis – Pembroke Pines, FL
Mayor Andrew Gillum – Tallahassee, FL
Mayor Hardie Davis – Augusta, GA
Mayor Ruth Randleman – Carlisle, IA
Mayor Frank Cownie – Des Moines, IA
Mayor Sara Kurovski – Pleasant HIll, IA
Mayor Diana Willits – Windsor Heights, IA
Mayor Chris Koos – Normal, IL
Mayor Jeff Longwell – Wichita, KS
Mayor Mitchell Landrieu – New Orleans, LA
Mayor Carlo DeMaria – Everett, MA
Mayor Domenic Sarno – Springfield, MA
Mayor Andrew Fellows – College Park, MD
Mayor Emmett V. Jordan – Greenbelt, MD
Mayor Jeffrey Slavin – Somerset, MD
Mayor Michael Brennan – Portland, ME
Mayor Betsy Hodges – Minneapolis, MN
Mayor Ardell Brede – Rochester, MN
Mayor Chris Coleman – Saint Paul, MN
Mayor Sly James – Kansas City, MO
Mayor Francis G. Slay – St. Louis, MO
Mayor Shelley Welsch – University City, MO
Mayor Dawn Zimmer – Hoboken, NJ
Mayor Steven Fulop – Jersey City, NJ
Mayor Brian Wahler – Piscataway, NJ
Mayor Carolyn Goodman – Las Vegas, NV
Mayor Kathy Sheehan – Albany, NY
Mayor Ann M. Thane – Amsterdam, NY
Mayor Shawn Hogan – Hornell, NY
Mayor Svante Myrick – Ithaca, NY
Mayor Bill de Blasio – New York City, NY
Mayor Stephanie Miner – Syracuse, NY
Mayor Michael Coleman – Columbus, OH
Mayor Joyce Sutton Cameron – Trotwood, OH
Mayor Mick Cornett – Oklahoma City, OK
Mayor Denny Doyle – Beaverton, OR
Mayor Kitty Piercy – Eugene, OR
Mayor Charles Hales – Portland, OR
Mayor Ed Pawlowski – Allentown, PA
Mayor Sal Panto – Easton, PA
Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. – Charleston, SC
Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin – Columbia, SC
Mayor Madeline Rogero – Knoxville, TN
Mayor AC Wharton – Memphis, TN
Mayor Mike Rawlings – Dallas, TX
Mayor Betsy Price – Fort Worth, TX
Mayor Ivy R. Taylor – San Antonio, TX
Mayor William Euille – Alexandria, VA
Mayor Ron Rordam – Blacksburg, VA
Mayor McKinley Price – Newport News, VA
Mayor W. Howard Myers – Petersburg, VA
Mayor Dwight Jones – Richmond, VA
Mayor David A Bowers – Roanoke, VA
Mayor Linda Johnson – Suffolk, VA
Mayor Edward Murray – Seattle, WA
Mayor Paul Soglin – Madison, WI
Mayor John Dickert – Racine, WI

Cc: Members of the 2015 Surface Transportation Reauthorization Conference Committee

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