Last week -- just hours before we were scheduled to begin cutting transportation funding to states -- Congress found a way to postpone the immediate crisis, and extend transportation funding ten more months, until next May.
While we at DOT are glad to avoid those painful cuts, we --along with thousands of commuters, construction workers, freight shippers and manufacturers-- know that it's still not the long-term solution that America's transportation system really needs.
In fact, it's the 28th Band-Aid Congress has passed in the last six years. And the cumulative effect of these short-term measures is crushing our ability to keep up with the pressures on our national transportation system. The truth is, Band-Aids can't fill all the potholes and cracked pavement in your community's roads, and they certainly can't build new bridges, upgrade rail track, or replace aging buses.
It's not for lack of trying. We sent a forward-leaning, long term bill --GROW AMERICA-- to Capitol Hill, a bill that was fully paid for. I wore out some shoes talking to Members of Congress, to Mayors, to Governors. I spoke to different groups. I blogged, and tweeted, and posted on Facebook.
I even toured the country by bus -- from Columbus, Ohio to Dallas, Texas through Nashville and Birmingham and other cities -- to stress the importance of passing a long-term fix.
President Obama also made infrastructure a centerpiece of his economic agenda. The President rallied Americans in Minneapolis, New York, and right here in Washington, DC, at the Key Bridge. Vice President Biden traveled to Cleveland and took to the White House Whiteboard to explain how important it is to our future to invest in our infrastructure today.
But while Congress avoided one crisis, the one we're now facing at the end of May is even bigger. Which means we should be working to fix it now.
If you agree, then I want you to join me this Wednesday, August 6, at 1:00pm Eastern time for my GROW AMERICA National Town Hall.
During this discussion, I'll talk about why you're stuck in traffic, why you're waiting for that train or bus, and what we can do about it.
Although our transportation problems are easy to see, they're not always easy to understand. We have flashing signs that can warn you about traffic ahead, but those signs don't tell you why rush hour seems to get longer and longer or how you can change it. This call will be just the start of our work to convince Congress to pass a long-term transportation solution like GROW AMERICA, now instead of waiting until May.
We're streaming the Town Hall live on the web, but you can already submit questions for me right now via Twitter --using the hashtag #InvestNow-- or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
But be ready: I'm looking to whip up support for a long-term transportation solution. A transportation solution that doesn't leave future generations hanging by taking the easy way out. A transportation solution that provides State DOTs, transit agencies, planners, and communities the certainty they need to look ahead more than a few months. A transportation solution that invests today --in roads, in rail, and in transit-- so America will be ready for tomorrow.
If you think that's the kind of path we should go down --and, if you're ready to respond to my call-to-action to help steer this country down it-- then join me this Wednesday at www.dot.gov/townhall, and we'll see what we can do together.
I'm looking forward to it--