Chairman Denham, Ranking Member Brown, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am John Robert Smith, Co-Chair of Transportation for America, the country’s broadest and most diverse transportation coalition. Our members hail from the fields of transportation, housing, environment, public health, real estate, safety, and social equity, representing more than 500 different organizations. I am also the President and CEO of Reconnecting America, a national nonprofit that integrates transportation and community development. Reconnecting America is the managing partner of the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, which conducts research and promotes best practices in development along transit lines.
I would like to thank the Subcommittee for holding this hearing on the role of innovative finance in intercity passenger rail. Functional, safe, and efficient transportation systems are one of the cornerstones upon which this…
I commend the leaders of the Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, Chairman Patty Murray and Ranking Member Susan Collins, for the passage of their bipartisan bill funding critical housing and transportation programs. The investments called for in this bill in our transit, rail, and road networks and in neighborhoods and communities across the country will strengthen America's economic resilience and improve the daily lives of millions of families.
Of particular importance are the HUD Integrated Planning and Investment Grants. The $75 million set aside for this program will support integrated regional and local planning for housing, transportation, and other infrastructure in urban and rural areas around the country. By coordinating regional investment and implementation strategies, this funding will help to create stronger communities for all while getting the most out of every dollar invested.
I am also extremely pleased to see continued focus on improving and…
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Today, transportation generally and passenger rail in particular, lost a dear friend and valiant advocate with the passing of New Jersey U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Of the many trusted relationships I have formed through my work in transportation, my association with Sen. Lautenberg is one of the most highly valued. As the mayor of my hometown of Meridian, Miss., I worked closely with Sen. Trent Lott in the support of a national passenger rail network linking America's cities and towns, large and small. It was in the thick of that effort that I got to know Sen. Lautenberg and first realized the strength of that national system, which served both small town Mississippi and the rural South, and metropolitan New Jersey and the densely populated Northeast.
It was my good fortune to work with two statesmen, one a conservative Republican from Mississippi, the other a liberal Democrat from New Jersey, who did not let party affiliation or geographic…
With this bill Congress had the opportunity to establish a transportation program that would support communities' efforts to become more sustainable and economically resilient. Unfortunately, the conference report missed this opportunity and is in many ways a retreat from these goals. While I am pleased to see that funding for public transit was preserved at current levels, rather than being cut by 30% as was proposed last year, and that some transit-oriented development (TOD) language was included, the bill could have done so much more to provide transportation choices for people in rural, suburban, and urban areas to connect them with jobs, education, healthcare, and opportunity.
Reconnecting America President and CEO John Robert Smith welcomed the Department of Transportation's announcement of $500 million in funding for TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) 2012 grants across the country, especially in small towns and rural areas.
Reconnecting America and the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) today released a report that examines how smaller communities and rural regions are using transit and other mobility investments to revitalize their economies and connect residents to local and regional opportunities.