This week in Irving, Texas, transportation experts from the private and public sectors gathered for the Transportation and Infrastructure Summit. This year's theme, Modern Mobility: Advancing to the Future, reflects the need for transportation solutions that meet today's challenges and begin addressing tomorrow's needs.
At the summit, DOT leaders presented scenarios for improved transportation to seamlessly move people and goods while protecting our environment, reducing dependence on foreign oil, and creating jobs.
Karen Rae, Deputy Administrator of our Federal Railroad Administration, laid out this scene. Business owners in Raleigh will be able to board trains in the morning, check email and prepare for a full day of customer presentations, sail past DC’s infamous I-95 and Beltway gridlock and avoid the headaches of air travel, arrive on time, and transfer easily to Metro, streetcars, urban circulators, taxis or a car sharing service to reach their appointments throughout the Capital region. After a productive day, an afternoon train will take them back home in time for a late dinner with their families.
A successful day trip to and from a city hours away? Yes, under President Obama's vision for transportation, we can do this.
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland had his own vision. In that vision, gas prices in America stop eating up household budgets thanks to strong, but attainable fuel-economy standards put into place by the Obama Administration. Those include the first-ever fuel-economy standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks, saving America's truckers thousands of dollars every year.
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez is similarly optimistic about the state of America's roadways. He presented a future where a community can replace 14 bridges along a heavily trafficked interstate highway in a single summer rather than the four years it used to take. He also sees a day when our roadways themselves will be safer and last longer using state of good repair approaches that actually cost less.
Can we do that? We already are.
At the summit, Craig Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, showed why investments in transportation infrastructure make sense. The Seaway's Asset Renewal Program has created jobs and already begun to improve the flow of cargo on that important waterway. The Seaway is a true asset that carries tens of millions of tons of cargo every navigation season in the most fuel-efficient way we have for moving goods: aboard ships.
These DOT leaders showed that a nation's investments in transportation pay valuable short and long-term dividends. The experts who attended the Transportation and Infrastructure Summit this week know that America cannot afford to ignore those benefits.