T4America Blog

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T4 partners meet President Obama, talk about transportation and infrastructure

Three T4 America partners were invited to join us at the White House Monday to meet the President of the United States and talk about transportation funding, specifically the infrastructure portion of the President’s American Jobs Act. The President’s plan, which failed to make it to a final vote yesterday in the Senate, would have invested $60 billion into infrastructure.

White House staff contacted T4 America to invite a few of our local partners out there with boots on the ground working hard to get their local, state and congressional leaders to start making smart, solid investments in transportation to help boost the economy and get people back to work.

Brian Imus of Illinois PIRG, Scott Wolf of Grow Smart Rhode Island, and Arnold Weinfeld of the Michigan Municipal League (pictured, standing right) were invited guests of the President for his Monday working group meeting in the White House to talk about the urgent need for America to invest more dollars, wisely, in our aging transportation system.

Arnold Weinfeld got a chance to stand up at his front row table a few feet from the President and tell him the same thing that we highlighted on our blog last week, that fixing bridges and building transit and passenger rail are bipartisan issues in Michigan. Tired of waiting on Washington to act — similar to the President’s motivation for the jobs bill — Governor Rick Snyder has put forth an ambitious plan to invest in all kinds of transportation for the state.

Michigan citizens and local partners like the Michigan Municipal League or the Michigan Suburbs Alliance know that a successful future for Michigan hinges on making smart investments in transportation to keep people and goods moving quickly and safely, whether in a car over a repaired bridge, on foot to the corner store, or in a new light rail vehicle on the Woodward light rail line underway in Detroit.

We desperately need the fresh infusion of money into our deficient bridges and aging transit systems that the American Jobs Act would have provided. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to get the necessary 60 votes for cloture in the Senate to vote on the transportation portion of the American Jobs Act. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the road for transportation funding. Far from it.

Attention in the Senate will now turn to the long-term transportation bill that’s seemingly been just over the horizon for months now. The Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to release their part of the bill this afternoon, for markup next Wednesday.

Though we do need the kind of infusion that the jobs act would have provided to get things rolling today and put people to work, we really need the certainty of a long-term reauthorization bill, new policies and clear reforms to make sure that we make the best use of our transportation dollars.