T4America Blog

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Support rolling in for Congress’ bipartisan proposal to unlock billions for local transportation needs

With the introduction of the Innovation in Surface Transportation Act in the Senate, the proposal now is active in both chambers of Congress. This bill will give local communities greater access to federal funds by providing them a seat and a voice at the decision making table.

It was no surprise to us to see the support for this bill begin rising up from a myriad of mayors, business groups and local leaders after its introduction in the House earlier this summer and the Senate last month. They’re laser-focused on the economic development opportunities that can be provided by smart, merit-based projects in their communities. After all, they’re the ones who most directly deal with the fallout when companies can’t recruit talent because congestion is overwhelming, or workers can’t reach their jobs because of the limits to the local transportation network.

Here are some of the quotes that we’ve received in support of this plan in just the last few days.

Leroy Walker Jr.
Trustee at the Hinds County (Mississippi) Economic Development Authority
“As a businessman, I am extremely encouraged that Senator Wicker and Senator Booker have joined forces (along with Senators Begich, Casey and Cochran) to sponsor legislation in an effort to ensure economic empowerment for those who are too often cut off.  This legislation will allow local counties and municipalities the ability to channel much needed funds toward priority projects already underway and jumpstart the viable projects waiting on deck. Our current system fails to support many projects that have buy-in from the community leaders who know best the needs of their towns.  This legislation will provide a tremendous economic shot in the arm for communities across the United States.  I am excited, and pray that all representatives get on board and support this smart legislation.”

Knox Ross
Mayor of Pelahatchie, MS
Chair of the Southern Rail Commission:
“Being allowed to compete for the matching dollars we need to capitalize on the potential of a rail station could mean the difference between finding economic success or languishing in the future. Senator Wicker and his co-sponsors deserve a lot of support for answering our call for greater access to Mississippi’s share of federal grant money.”

John Spain
Executive VP of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation:
“In the nine years since Hurricane Katrina turned southern Louisiana upside down, we have made enormous strides to get our local economies back on track. There is huge potential for economic success in the New Orleans-Baton Rouge region if we can overcome our challenges with transportation connectivity. This bill offers the opportunity to do that, and we applaud Senators Wicker, Booker and their co-sponsors for leading the way.”

Christian Bollwage
Mayor of Elizabeth, NJ
“This proposal is a pure win for cities, towns and suburbs, because it would expand the pot of money we can use to improve our communities and build our economies – by about $151 million in New Jersey alone, based on current funding. This legislation fixes a problem in the last federal transportation bill, which restricted local control rather than increasing it as promised, and would be a huge step forward.”

Gary Rhoads
Mayor of Flowood, MS
“The jurisdictions in our region have a shared vision for economic development that requires all of us to pitch in for joint projects that make vital connections. We think we have smart plans that could win funding, if we are given the chance to apply for them. Senator Wicker’s bill could make all the difference for us.”

Dan Hollingsworth
Mayor of Ruston, LA
“On behalf of the city of Ruston, I urge passage of the Wicker-Booker bill. This bill restores traditional principles of rewarding dollars based on merit, engaging our representatives in Washington on needed, collaborative projects that otherwise would be impossible. Good projects that promote economic development and quality of life ought to have a leg up, rather than wait in line for years for dollars to trickle down. This is a great idea whose time has come.”

John Marks
Mayor of Tallahassee, FL
“Tallahassee has committed to a vision of mixed-use historic districts connected to our universities by walking, biking and transit and mix-use development within one-mile of our Amtrak station. The projects we envision will deliver a strong return on investment for Tallahassee, surrounding areas and the state of Florida. We can fulfill this vision by gaining access to funds like those made available through the Wicker-Booker bill, and we strongly support its passage.”

Jamel Holley
Mayor of Roselle, NJ
“To become the model 21st century community we aspire to be, we have to be able to build the infrastructure that goes with it. But without grant programs like this, we are hard pressed to do more than maintain what we have. Senator Booker understands this, and we are proud that he and Senator Wicker are taking the lead in helping communities like ours compete for a larger portion of our state’s federal dollars.” 

Sly James
Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri
Cities like mine are hard-pressed to be able to address billions of dollars of deferred infrastructure maintenance. State Department of Transportation funds are helpful, but are often not targeted to specific needs that are well known locally. No one knows better than local city leaders which projects are most critical or strategically important. We see the problems, and the potential, and we connect with the people who live and work here in ways others simply cannot. Those same city leaders should, therefore, have some opportunity to access funding to accomplish those goals in a way that boosts local economic activity, which in turn results in a stronger state economy. A competitive local grant program as proposed in the Innovation in Surface Transportation Act would enable local leaders to pinpoint areas of greatest and/or most immediate need, advance strategic projects that meet those needs, and efficiently marshall capital and human resources to create and/or sustain jobs in the local economy.

Be sure to send a message of support to your congressional representatives in the House and Senate today letting them know you support this smart piece of legislation.