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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Foxx, 11 former USDOT secretaries call on Congress to pass long-term solution to transportation funding


U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and 11 of his predecessors yesterday sent an open letter to Congress imploring lawmakers to address the nation's long-term transportation needs.

While Foxx and the former U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) leaders expressed support for a measure that would stave off insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund through May 2015, they also noted that the short-term solution would not fix long-term problems with the nation's surface transportation system.

"Never in our nation's history has America's transportation system been on a more unsustainable course," states the letter, which in addition to Foxx is signed by Ray LaHood, Mary Peters, Norman Mineta, Rodney Slater, Federico Peña, Samuel Skinner, Andrew Card, James Burnley, Elizabeth Dole, William Coleman and Alan Boyd.

They noted that while federal funding bills once sustained the transportation system for up to six years, over the past five years Congress has passed 27 short-term measures.

"This is no way to run a railroad, fill a pothole, or repair a bridge. In fact, the unpredictability about when, or if, funding will come has caused states to delay or cancel projects altogether," the 12 secretaries wrote.

The nationwide backlog of repairing and rebuilding infrastructure has cost Americans in a number of ways. For example, bad roads cost individual drivers hundreds of dollars a year due to extra wear-and-tear on their vehicles and time spent in traffic.

"Simply put, the United States is in a united state of disrepair, a crisis made worse by the fact that, over the next generation, more will be demanded of our transportation system than ever before. By 2050, this country will be home to up to 100 million new people. And we'll have to move 14 billion additional tons of freight, almost twice what we move now," the letter stated.

Although they may not agree on all the details of a long-term solution, the 12 secretaries all concur that "we cannot continue funding our transportation with measure stat are short-term and short of the funding we need," they said.

Together, the secretaries have led the USDOT for more than 35 years and served seven presidents: Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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