John Robert Smith, President and CEO of Reconnecting America and Co-Chair of Transportation for America, was a guest at today's (Aug. 31, 2011) remarks by President Obama in the Rose Garden. President Obama urged Congress to pass an extension of the Surface Transportation Extension Act, which is set to expire Sept. 30. In particular, the president said Congress needs to save American jobs by passing a clean extension, at current funding levels, with no cuts or riders attached. The president called on Congress to "place country before party." In response, Smith released the following statement:
The second in a series of webinars designed to assist rural communities in submitting strong applications for the latest round of Department of Transportation TIGER grants will be held Aug. 31 at 2pm EDT. The webinar will build on the overview provided by the first webinar in this series, by exploring in-depth the various aspects of the TIGER application process.Among the participants will be Reconnecting America President and CEO John Robert Smith, the former mayor of Meridian, Miss. Click here to register.
A team led by Reconnecting America has won a competitive grant to assist communities that have received Sustainable Communities Grants. The Reconnecting America team was one of eight chosen by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help existing federal grantees work together to solve common problems.
The first of two webinars designed to help rural communities take advantage of the Department of Transportation's TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants was held Aug. 3. The outreach effort to support rural communities in submitting strong applications for this funding is supported by a number of organizations, including Reconnecting America, the American Public Transportation Association, the National Association of Development Organizations, the National League of Cities, PolicyLink, Rural Assembly, Smart Growth America, and Transportation for America.
The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced on July 1, 2011, that it would offer a third round of the popular TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program, which funds innovative, job-creating transportation projects. DOT is authorized to award $526.944 million through the program. At least $141 million of the program funds will be reserved for projects in rural areas. (See Reconnecting America’s blog post for general information on TIGER.)
Looking for funding for a new project in your community? HUD, DOT, EPA, and several other agencies have made available millions of dollars in funding to support the planning and implementation of projects that promote sustainable communities. Funding is available for a variety of uses, including community planning, affordable housing finance, technical assistance, research, and capital infrastructure investments. To help you navigate the complex maze of opportunities, Reconnecting America has compiled a list of all upcoming programs and deadlines.
While I appreciate Chairman Mica's commitment to moving forward on this important legislation, his outline for a six-year, $230 billion surface transportation bill represents a cut of approximately one-third from current funding levels and would cost well over half a million jobs. As a former elected official myself, I certainly understand the challenges he faces in moving this legislation forward during tough financial times. But these are exactly the times in which we must invest in our infrastructure - it is the path we will travel to job creation.
In anticipation of the release of the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the 2011 round of HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants, Reconnecting America did a series of interviews with successful applicants from the 2010 round of HUD Regional Sustainable Communities Grants to understand has led to the formation of strong collaborative efforts that were successful in winning a highly competitive grant. These interviews included winners of both the Category 1 grants to support the creation of Regional Plans for Sustainable Development and Category 2 grants for Detailed Execution Plans and Programs.
Representative John Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced a far-reaching plan to privatize the Northeast Corridor (NEC) as well as intercity passenger and commuter rail service.
After receiving applications from half the states last month, the Obama Administration announced the winners of the High Speed and Intercity Rail grant program today. John Robert Smith, the President and CEO of Reconnecting America stated, "The vision created by these grants is one that should excite the American people. It calls for a high performance rail system that is reliable and competitive with the automobile and has the ability to reduce Americans' dependence on foreign oil."