Last Friday, the Norfolk Southern railroad and the Washington Post hosted a conference called "Fixing America's Foundation: Rebuilding Transportation Infrastructure."
As Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman said, "The nation's transportation infrastructure is at a tipping point. We need to chart the way ahead with resolve, and with concrete, achievable plans. It's a critical discussion -- for every mode of transportation."
And if you've been reading the Fast Lane, you know that President Obama and I agree with him. So, I was happy to speak at Friday's conference about the Administration's ideas for modernizing America's transportation systems--from roadways to railways to runways--while putting Americans back to work.
Solving our transportation problems has often been one of the issues where Americans can count on bipartisanship from their elected legislators. For example, when I was elected to Congress in 1994, we had a very reform-minded class, 82 new people, and they came here to do something, to solve problems. Almost always in the past when people have run for Congress, they sought an opportunity to help solve the problems of America.
In 1982, President Reagan faced an opposition Congress, and what did they do? They passed a surface transportation bill that put people to work on the jobs this country needed done.
Today the prospect is different, but it doesn't have to be. This is still a nation capable of building big, capable of innovating to meet its challenges.
In fact, from Friday's conference I went directly to an international awards ceremony honoring the world's best industrial designs in transportation, and I saw several terrific examples of American excellence.
Taking the overall top prize was the Metro North commuter rail's design for its Croton Harmon maintenance base. The renovation of the Wilimington, DE, Amtrak station took a top prize in station work, as did the combined renovations of three stations on the SEPTA commuter rail line. The Washington, DC, BikeStation won an award for its new facility, which supports the Union Station passenger train depot.
U.S. projects also earned commendations for technical infrastructure--MBTA for bridge replacement and Norfolk Southern for its Heartland Corridor work. Amtrak added a nod in the rolling stock category for its overhaul of Superliner coaches.
The point is clear: we have the talent; we have the need; and we have the workers.
Now, we need Congress to help our nation solve its transportation and employment problems by putting Americans to work rebuilding America's transportation systems. We need Congress to pass the American Jobs Act.