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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: City Transportation Leaders Point to Transportation Crisis

9/9/2008  4:20:00 PM
Alex Wiggins, 206.684.7842

City Transportation Leaders Point to Transportation Crisis
Join House Transportation Chair James Oberstar to Call for New Policy

SEATTLE - The top transportation officials from thirteen major American cities and Representative James Oberstar, the chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, called today for a renewed federal focus on transportation, and new federal transportation priorities and policies.

The city transportation officials, representing the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), released a platform for a new federal transportation policy. The current federal transportation law expires in 2009, presenting a major opportunity for the next president and next Congress to develop strong responses to these issues.

The NACTO platform calls for a federal transportation bill centered on three principles:

-Fully funding repairs and upgrades for American roads, bridges and mass transit;
-Leading the country in combating energy dependence and climate change; and
-Cutting red tape and bureaucracy to deliver projects more quickly.

“As we prepare 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. 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, and I applaud NACTO for rising to this challenge,” said Chairman Oberstar.

The officials pointed to a set of intersecting problems that they said added up to a looming transportation crisis for the United States:

-Decaying infrastructure across the country
-The federal Highway Trust Fund going bust
-High gas prices limiting American mobility
-Rapidly escalating costs for mass transit systems, just as Americans seek new transportation options

“Cities are on the front-line of our transportation and infrastructure struggles,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation and president of the association of city transportation officials. “Metropolitan areas have most of America’s infrastructure and all of our congestion, and the infrastructure funding gap and policy bottlenecks we face add up to a national problem of the first order,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “The federal government has got to get back in the game if we are to forge a transportation system that serves as the foundation for our economy and quality of life in the 21st century.”

“Overly-complex procedures, check-offs and reporting can add years to actually getting federal transportation funds on the ground,” said Seattle Department of Transportation Director Grace Crunican. “The routing of all federal roadway funding through the states creates unnecessary, duplicative review for our highly capable cities. We need more transportation improvements and less paperwork.”

The NACTO platform also calls for big cities to receive federal funding directly, if they choose. The NACTO platform also seeks to place transportation successes in American cities into an updated federal transportation policy. With a rising tide of transportation innovation in American cities, the federal law can harness these new developments, help cities do more faster, and help spread the successes to cities and metro areas around the country.

NACTO is comprised of transportation officials from Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC. Formed in 1996, the group fosters information exchange between cities and articulates common interests at the national level.

The Seattle Department of Transportation builds, maintains and operates Seattle's $8 billion transportation infrastructure. To further Mayor Nickels’ goal to get Seattle moving, the department manages short- and long-term investments in streets, bridges, pavement and trees, that better connect the city with the region.

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Seattle Department of Transportation

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