Yesterday, I addressed the members of the National League of Cities, and it was a pleasure to be among leaders who understand the value of investing in America's transportation. Because League members know that, last year, drivers in this country's cities spent an average of 42 hours stuck in traffic. That's more than a full-time week of work.
This isn't to say the United States doesn't have the best transportation system in the world. We do.
Rather, the problems we're witnessing in our cities are in large part problems of congestion. And those are problems that we know won't go away on their own; in fact, population pressures will make them worse.
By 2042, America's population will swell by nearly a third, up almost 90 million --with 19 new metropolitan areas reaching the million-person mark.
At DOT, we've been doing what we can to solve our transportation challenges.
During his first four years in office, President Obama's commitment to investing in our national transportation systems never wavered. Between the Recovery Act and core infrastructure funds, we've improved over 330,000 miles of U.S. roads, and we've repaired or replaced over 20,000 bridges. We've helped bring transit systems from coast to coast into a state of good repair, and we've given bicyclists and pedestrians a seat at the table.
The President himself has led the way on improving passenger rail, outlining his vision for a national inter-city passenger network that will make us more competitive in the global marketplace.
And we're not only focusing on the ground. We also have our sights set on the sky, too. The Next Generation air traffic control system the Federal Aviation Administration has been developing is transforming the way we manage air traffic, moving us from the ground-based radar system of today to the satellite-based system of tomorrow.
These are just some of the steps we're taking to ensure that America's roads, rails, and runways are the world's best. And they won't be the last.
Just last week, the President called for more transportation investment and said that "rebuilding our infrastructure could be part of a bipartisan budget deal."
And it isn't only Democrats who agree. So do many conservatives, including the president of the Chamber of Commerce, who's said, "Transportation is a great opportunity to prove that Democrats and Republicans can work together [and to] get something done for the good of the nation."
And he's right; investing in transportation is good for the nation.
It creates jobs. It boosts economic development in areas that are underutilized. It opens up routes of commerce that allow manufacturers to set up shop here, and to scale up here, and to ship American-made goods from here to markets and customers around the world.
The President has put forth his ideas on how we can continue revitalizing our transportation system. Now, we need Congress to do the same.
Because we can only accomplish this great, national project if we accomplish it together. And that includes America's state and local leaders, too.
It is only when we work together that our cities and our country can grow, without growing too crowded. It is only then that we can go from gridlock to open road, open harbors, and open skies.