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9/11/2008



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Transportation officials association calls for new federal focus


The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), along with House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar, convened in Washington, D.C., yesterday to call for a renewed federal focus on transportation, as well as new transportation priorities and policies.

NACTO — which comprises transportation leaders from 13 U.S. cities — outlined a series of factors they believe are creating a looming transportation crisis: decaying infrastructure, a broken federal Highway Trust Fund, high gas prices and rapidly escalating costs for mass transit agencies.

"As we prepared to write the next surface transportation authorization bill, we find ourselves on the cusp of a transformational moment in the evolution of our surface transportation program," said Oberstar in a prepared statement. "We face challenges in determining what the shape of our system should be and how best to finance it. To achieve this mission, we must continue to strengthen the federal role in partnering with city transportation officials to address the multitude of transportation needs."

The officials released a platform for a new federal transportation policy to succeed SAFETEA-LU, which expires in 2009. NACTO is calling for a transportation bill centered on fully funding repairs and upgrades for roads, bridges and mass transit, combating energy dependence and climate change, and cutting red tape and bureaucracy to deliver projects more quickly, association officials said.

"With transit ridership increasing ... strengthening public transportation must be a national priority," said NACTO member and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel Ford. "The federal government needs to put transit on an equal playing field with road and highway improvements."


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