By Transportation for America
For Immediate Release
Contact: Stephen Davis
or David Goldberg
Transportation for America issued the following statement following last night’s collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River near Mount Vernon, Washington.
“The shocking collapse of a busy Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State highlights the issue of our country’s aging bridges and what we’re doing to address them. Thankfully, no one was killed or even seriously injured in this collapse, which could not be said about the last high profile bridge collapse in Minnesota.
Nationwide, more than one in ten bridges is rated structurally deficient, in need of close monitoring, urgent repairs, rehabilitation or replacement. We take more than 260 million trips over deficient bridges each day. In just our 102 largest metro areas alone, there are more deficient bridges than there are McDonald’s restaurants in the entire country, 18,000 versus 14,000.
While this particular bridge was not considered structurally deficient at the time of its collapse, it is one of thousands that are well past their intended lifespan and carrying far more traffic than intended at the time they were built. The typical bridge is 43 years old with a design life of 50 years.
Considering that progress on repairing deficient bridges has slowed in the last ten years, Congress took a major gamble in last summer’s new transportation law (MAP-21) by eliminating dedicated funding for repairing highway bridges. Now bridge repair is forced to compete with other transportation needs for funding.
At the same time, our chief source of repair dollars – the federal gas tax – is declining as Americans drive more fuel-efficient cars and fewer miles. Congress urgently needs to address both our funding priorities and how we will pay for them in the face of an aging system and growing population, before the next preventable bridge collapse strands commuters, cripples a local economy and claims lives.”April 30, 2013
By Transportation for America
Responding to President Obama’s nomination of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Transportation for America Director James Corless issued this statement:
April 11, 2013
“Transportation for America congratulates Mayor Foxx on his nomination as transportation secretary. We are delighted to see a mayor of one of our up-and-coming economic centers selected to provide national leadership on implementing the provisions of MAP-21 and laying the groundwork for what we hope will be a rejuvenated national program. As a metropolitan region in the booming Sun Belt, Charlotte has become a leader in embracing transportation innovations and high-quality public transportation as key building blocks of a prosperous economy.
The long recession and related budget woes, along with the trend of flattening gas tax receipts, have left states and localities struggling to meet the needs of a growing and diversifying population. As the elected head of a major city, Mayor Foxx is more likely than most to understand the issues facing localities and states. We wish him success during the confirmation process.”
By Transportation for America
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Responding to President Obama FY 2014 budget announcement, including $50 billion in additional investment in key areas, Transportation for America Director James Corless issued this statement:
March 13, 2013
“President Obama has been very consistent in calling for investment in fixing and expanding our overburdened transportation network, and his budget reflects those priorities. His pledge to fully fund the commitments made to states and localities in the MAP-21 law last summer is welcome, particularly in the light of the arbitrary cuts made under so-called sequestration.
The proposed $50 billion investment in near-term repairs and upgrades would give thousands of Americans work that needs doing, as our report on structurally deficient bridges made clear. Transit systems, too, are suffering from decay after a long recession that saw budgets cut to the bone and beyond. Our ports and freight networks need help, too.
In fact, we would like to see the President and Congress agree to more than a one-shot infusion. The transportation trust fund is in long-term trouble as gas tax receipts flatten, and the funds our communities depend on to build and maintain transit and road infrastructure have become less and less reliable. The truth is, our nation needs an ongoing investment in maintenance and repair of our 20th century infrastructure, even as we build a ‘next generation’ infrastructure for the 21st century.”
By Transportation for America
The Transportation for America (T4America) Campaign is seeking a smart and motivated individual to jump into a vibrant national campaign and be a high performing Field Director. The Field Director will direct the day-to-day operations of a diverse coalition of prominent leaders from a multitude of constituencies working to reform transportation policy.
T4 America is a growing and diverse campaign of partner organizations, businesses, and elected officials focused on creating a bold, new national transportation program that will take America into the 21st century by building a modernized infrastructure and affordable, livable communities where people have a diversity of transportation and housing options. Over 500 partners strong, the campaign is growing daily.
Experience managing field organizing on a political or issue campaign is required. The Field Director reports to the Campaign Director and works with the 7 person field and outreach staff to develop and implement field plans for the campaign. The applicant must be a dynamic individual, prepared to speak to audiences, and organize both grasstop and grassroots events for NGOs, business leaders, and elected officials. The Field Director will also work closely with the Legislative and Communications teams.
Responsibilities will include:
- Manage a powerful national field operation consisting of state coalitions of “grasstop” supporters — local organizations, statewide organizations, elected officials, and in-state opinion leaders — for the campaign.
- Grow a powerful national outreach operation consisting of leaders from the business community, elected officials, real estate developers, equity and health groups, civic leaders, transportation industry representatives, and others.
- Develop regional tactics and field strategy and manage implementation of activities by local organizers for over a dozen high priority states for the campaign.
- Work with field team to engage local and state partners to shape outreach strategies appropriate for each state.
- Manage outreach activities and partner engagement with targeted constituent groups both in DC and in other target locations, including partner summits, Hill briefings, and media opportunities.
- Build the capacity of national partners, local, and state campaign partners to engage with state and federal leaders on the campaign’s legislative agenda.
- Develop tools and materials (in coordination with other campaign teams) to engage coalition partners in advocacy and media efforts in an expanding role over the course of the campaign.
- Train field and outreach staff on organizing, advocacy, and messaging.
- Report regularly to Campaign Director with written documentation of results.
- This position requires a self-motivated and detail-oriented person with excellent organizational skills. The candidate must have good communication and interpersonal skills, and be able to work independently with minimal supervision.
- In select states, work with local partners who are coordinating with the campaign to promote economic development policies and transportation funding campaigns.
- In select states, engage local partners in activities around federal transportation policy.
The candidate should have:
- Interest in transportation issues and experience organizing on an advocacy campaign. Prior work building broad-based coalitions and working with transportation agencies – particularly local or metropolitan planning agencies — is preferred.
- A minimum of five years of salaried management experience in field organizing for a political or issue campaign.
- Demonstrated ability to work independently and meet deadlines with willingness to be part of a team working towards a common goal.
- Available for travel on a frequent basis
- Strong communication and writing skills and an ability to work with a diverse group of people and audiences.
- Ability to build and maintain coalitions through internet, in person or by phone.
- Knowledge of transportation policy and transportation and land-use planning a plus.
COMPENSATION: Compensation will be commensurate with experience.
TIME FRAME: Full-time.
HOW TO APPLY: Interested applicants should send a cover letter, resume, short writing sample and 3 references to email@example.com. Include “Field Director” in text in the subject line or the body of the email. Interviews will be held on a rolling basis so it’s best to get your application in early.February 27, 2013
By Transportation for America
It’s not too late! Join us today (Wednesday, February 27th) at 1pm EST for an online presentation to learn how to use MAP-21 to fund rural transportation priorities and strengthen your community. Click here to register.
Investing in a variety of transportation options — like public transportation, vanpooling, bicycling, walking and safe roads and bridges — are crucial for stronger, more resilient communities in our rural cities, towns and communities. It’s important to know how the new federal transportation law (MAP-21) changed the way communities will access transportation dollars and what these funds may be used for.
Elected officials and municipal staff from non-metropolitan areas are encouraged to join this online presentation. This presentation is free and open to the public; feel free to pass this invitation on to others in your network.
Our panelists for this discussion include:
Commissioner Kathy Rinaldi, Teton County, Idaho
Charles W. Fluharty, President and CEO, Rural Policy Research Institute
Chris Zeilinger, Director of Policy Development, Community Transportation Association of America
Georgia Gann, Deputy Director of Government Affairs, Transportation for America
John Robert Smith, President and CEO, Reconnecting America and Former Mayor of Meridian, MS (moderator)
Wednesday, February 27th
1pm EST/10am PST
By Stephen Lee Davis
The White House put out a press release on the President’s plan for infrastructure that was introduced at the State of the Union last week, and though it’s still short on details, it does start to paint a picture of what the President intends. The three major thrusts of the plan are investing in a “fix-it-first” policy, attracting private investment through a “Rebuild America Partnership”, and a plan to cut red tape and speed up the timeframe for transportation projects.
The New York Times had a short story on the President’s plan Wednesday after getting an early copy of the release in which a pair of frequent T4 America collaborators responded to the Times on the plan. Rob Puentes from the Brookings Institution and Phineas Baxandall from US PIRG were both cautiously optimistic, though Puentes noted one of the biggest differences between this plan and the President’s plan for the transportation bill of a couple years ago is that “‘the important shift seems to be the administration is not waiting for the legislature,’ but is ‘maximizing the things they can do themselves.’”
While the idea of private capital flowing to new infrastructure projects, an infrastructure bank and cutting red tape are well and good, the idea of “Fix-It-First” is definitely a popular one with voters across the board.
According to data from a Public Opinion Strategies/Hart Research poll from 2011, 86% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the idea of establishing “a ‘fix-it-first’ policy that focuses, as much as possible, on maintaining our existing networks of roads, bridges, and public transportation systems before building new ones.”
When faced with the choice of either expanding highways or repairing the valuable infrastructure that we’ve got, it’s no contest.
Maintaining and repairing roads, highways, freeways, and bridges (51%); along with “expanding and improving bus, rail, van service, biking, walking, and other transportation choices” (33%) both win out over “expanding and building new roads, highways, freeways, and bridges,” which was a distant third place with only 16% supporting it in a 2011 national poll.
70,000 deficient bridges is a number that can stop people in their tracks. It certainly stopped Jon Stewart in his tracks on The Daily Show after the State of the Union, urging Stewart to give the President some advice in hindsight for the speech:
“70,000 structurally deficient?!? I mean, come on! Shouldn’t you have opened with that!”
Even a large portion of the news coverage following the State of the Union honed in on that 70,000 number, and more than a few outlets returned to our report chronicling the state of our country’s deficient bridges. In fact, 35 times! more people viewed our interactive map of deficient U.S. bridges on the week of the State of the Union compared to the week before.
$40 billion for repairing our existing infrastructure is a step in the right direction, though, as with many big sweeping policy proposals emanating from Washington, the devil is in the details. And in the days to come, we’ll see how serious the President is about pushing this policy forward into Congress, a body that incidentally just voted to eliminate all dedicated bridge repair funding in the new MAP-21 transportation law last summer.
Fixing our infrastructure and taking care of our past obligations first is a popular idea with voters. Will Congress take note?February 14, 2013
By Stephen Lee Davis
Whoa. Did you watch the State of the Union address Tuesday evening? With the country watching, President Obama shone a national spotlight on the pressing issue of dangerous and deficient bridges on roads all across our country.
“Tonight, I propose a “Fix It First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.”
That’s a great idea — exactly the kind of idea America needs right now. And it was also moment of unity, with nearly the entire chamber rising to their feet to applaud. But we all know how politics works these days: If Congress doesn’t immediately hear a similar demand from voters, it will be buried by partisan game-playing.
Tell your Representative and Senators today you agree with the President — we need to prioritize the repair of our deficient bridges, now before they become even more expensive to maintain. The $50 billion he proposed will only make a dent, but we have to start somewhere, and soon. And people need the jobs!
Nearly one in ten of all highway bridges is structurally deficient. It’s a huge issue in rural areas, where decaying bridges may provide the only connections between important places. It’s an even bigger issue in our largest metro areas, where an astonishing 75 percent of all trips over deficient bridges nationally occur each day.
We do need a concerted national effort to repair our bridges and Congress needs to hear it again.
And it goes well beyond bridges. Fix it first by investing more for maintenance generally, and hold states accountable for spending it wisely. Fix dangerous roads by investing in safer streets for our families. Fix traffic congestion by giving us more transportation options.December 11, 2012
By Transportation for America
Transportation for America today released an easy-to-follow handbook to help stakeholders understand and engage in implementing the new federal transportation law adopted last summer.
Making the Most of MAP-21: A Guide to the 2012 Federal Transportation Law — And How to Use it for Positive Change in Your Community features both narrative chapters and two-page explainers on the key features of the new program, from the consolidated highway program to the new transportation alternatives, as well as new financing options.
“Making the Most of MAP-21 is in an invaluable tool for those at the municipal level who are seeking both to understand the scope of the changes in the federal law, and determine how they can effect change at the local level,” said John Robert Smith, the co-chair of T4 America and the former four-term mayor of Meridian, MS.
After nearly three years of extensions of the expired previous transportation law, Congress in July adopted Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st century, or MAP-21. While it stopped short of providing more robust funding or a sweeping vision for infrastructure in the 21st century, MAP- 21 makes significant changes to federal transportation policy.
For one, it will mean that much more will depend now upon how well state departments of transportation manage affairs and attend to the needs of all their constituents. Federal law no longer sets aside a minimum amount of money for repairing our roads and bridges, leaving it to states to decide whether to repair or replace what we have, or to build new facilities that will themselves need to be maintained. More types of projects now compete for the money allocated to metropolitan areas. The law cuts by a third the money dedicated to make our roads and neighborhoods safer for walking or biking, but it gives localities more direct control over what remains.
“MAP-21 provides some opportunities for communities like ours to win federal support for our vision for a better future – but only if we know when, where and how to affect the decision-making process,” said Peter McLaughlin, a commissioner in Hennepin County, MN. “With this handbook, T4America has given us a road map for doing that.”
The handbook includes handy reference tables for funding by program for each state, as well as public transportation apportionments, bridge conditions, pedestrian and bicycle fatalities, the impact of transit service on local congestion and transportation costs by metro. It also offers a compendium of arguments that community supporters can use to bolster their desire to broaden local transportation options, make their streets safer and keep their system in good repair.
Find the handbook on the web with all of T4 America MAP-21 resources at http://t4america.org/resources/map-21.
With cities and suburbs clamoring to build new transit systems, a new book showcases creative financing approaches for getting them builtAugust 15, 2012
By Stephen Lee Davis
This new free guidebook from Transportation for America is designed to help community leaders across the country meet the demand for transit by raising money to build and operate it outside of the traditional federal funding sources.
The demand for public transportation service is at its highest point in 50 years.The causes are many: rising gas prices, an increasingly urbanized population, growing numbers of seniors, and the preferences of the “millennial” generation. These factors and more are contributing to soaring ridership on existing transit routes. And more communities today are looking for funds to build and operate rail and bus lines than ever before.
Yet a combination of ideological gridlock in Congress, dwindling federal gas tax revenues, and the elimination of earmarks have made the traditional approaches to building transit much more challenging. But despite these obstacles, many communities are finding creative ways to move ahead. From Tucson to Charlotte, communities across the country are rounding up funding from sources outside of the traditional federal funding sources to build tomorrow’s transportation system today.
Growing public interest in transit is leading many communities to look for ways to create or expand their transit systems, but as more communities apply for money from a shrinking piece of the pie, the already over-subscribed traditional federal programs for transit won’t be able to fund every project seeking assistance. To make the money go further, the New Starts transit program, the main source of funding for new transit systems, has recently covered one-half of project costs, down from 80 percent in the past, with some projects getting as little as one-third of their required total.
Even with this policy in effect the waiting list grows longer every year.
But all is not lost. There are ways to pay for new transit investments without waiting so long, and a growing number of communities are pursuing them. But doing so requires more sophistication in the art of project finance than has been needed in the past.
Someday—soon, we hope—the federal government may respond to the high level of demand for new transit investments by increasing funding available to communities. Those of us who aspire to provide these options for people in our communities must continue to work toward that goal. In the meantime, though, we can demonstrate the depth of the need and the strength of our desire by finding our own creative ways to make these projects happen.
This new guidebook is a first step toward that goal. We’ll be posting excerpts and stories here in the coming days, but you can download the full book today.
June 29, 2012
By Stephen Lee Davis
More than 1,000 days after the last transportation bill expired, Congress finally voted to approve a new transportation bill just moments ago. Unfortunately for those hoping for a bold step into the future, this bill represents a definite step backwards, the last gasp of an outdated 20th century program.
This bill was fast-tracked after the agreement was reached and it cleared the Senate and House this afternoon. If you want to call or write your representatives about the bill, you can use this page to do so. Many of them may still have no idea what’s actually in this bill — you can let them know, and let them know how you feel about it.
We want to especially thank many of you for your tireless support. Collectively, our supporters like you have sent tens of thousands of emails to Congress, made thousands of phone calls, and recruited thousands of friends to the cause.
Make no mistake, you’ve made a tremendous difference in the national debate on transportation priorities. You helped turn the Senate’s version of the transportation bill into something we could be proud of and defeated the House’s disastrous proposal to end all dedicated funding for public transit. At the last possible moment, election-year politics and backroom maneuvering intervened to thwart progress, but the movement for a more visionary, 21st century transportation agenda for all Americans has only just begun.
So what’s in the bill?
As you may remember, the Senate had done the hard work of carefully crafting a forward-looking, bipartisan bill that passed with an overwhelming majority.
Unfortunately, this final bill moves closer to the House’s disastrous HR7, which was too contentious and unpopular to garner enough votes to pass. This final negotiated bill has been called a “compromise,” but it’s really a substantial capitulation in the face of threats by the House to include provisions with no relevance to the transportation bill — the Keystone XL pipeline, regulation of coal ash and others.
As a result of this “compromise,” the bill dedicates zero dollars to repairing our roads and bridges, cuts the amount of money that cities and local governments would have received, makes a drastic cut in the money available to prevent the deaths of people walking or biking, and ensures that you have less input and control over major projects that affect you and the quality of your community.
Despite record demand for public transportation service, this deal cut the emergency provisions to preserve existing transit service, does little to expand that service and actually removed the small provision equalizing the tax benefit for transit and parking.
There are a few positives, though:
Your work saved the Cardin-Cochran provision to provide grants to local communities to make their streets safer for walking or biking from the chopping block. Dedicated funding was retained, though at a lower dollar level. About half the money will be given directly to metro areas, with the remainder used at state discretion.
A new grant program will fund community-led planning for neighborhood revitalization around transit lines. And a major increase in federally backed loans could help regions that raise their own transportation funds stretch them farther and build out ambitious transit plans faster.
While we didn’t end up with the bill that we were all hoping for, it is clear that this bill represents the last gasp of a 20th century transportation program that has run out of steam.
Gas prices are trending ever upward. Demand for public transportation is booming like never before. Demographic shifts show a more diverse America with fewer young people driving and huge increases in demand for more walkable towns and suburbs. More and more people are clamoring for safer streets and healthier communities.
We’ve said this fight has just begun and indeed it has.
The debate will now move to your state where many decisions will be made about how to spend this blank check. And your voice will be needed more than ever to urge your state to make sure that money reflects the priorities of local people — seniors trying to get to the doctor, families struggling to make ends meet and trying to get to their job, kids simply trying to cross the street to get to school.
And because this bill is only 27 months long – less time than it took to draft and pass it – the battle for the next one begins the minute this one is signed!
Thank you again for all your support. Continue following along here at t4america.org/blog where we’ll be explaining more about the details of the bill in the coming few days and weeks. If you want to know what’s in the bill with greater detail, you’ll want to stay tuned.
If you want to call or write your representatives about the bill, you can use this page to do so. Many of them may have no idea what’s actually in this bill — you can let them know, and let them know how you feel about it.