Mass Transit News

Clinton urges big transportation outlays

Senator says nationwide investment should include high-speed rail

November 15, 2008

COLONIE — U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday called for a massive investment in America's public transportation system, on the scale of the effort that launched the interstate highway system in the 1950s.

In a speech to the New York Public Transit Association, Clinton urged "bigger and bolder" transportation programs, including high-speed rail, and said modernizing the nation's transportation infrastructure and expanding transit will be a key issue for the next Congress and President-elect Barack Obama's incoming administration.

Projects to renew and expand the nation's transportation systems — especially public transportation — should work hand-in-hand with economic stimulus measures to create jobs, reduce dependence on foreign oil and combat global warming, she said.

"We have all traveled here to this conference along roads and rails and other means that are the fruits of a prior generation's investment," she told the group of transit administrators and employees from across New York. "We are living off of those investments. It's time for us to step up and make the investments today that will enable us to be richer and stronger and safer."

Clinton's address came on the third and final day of the transit association's fall conference here, where participants attended meetings on planning, funding, training and new developments in bus and rail technology.

Clinton has proposed legislation that would authorize spending $1.7 billion over two years for mass transit, including some $237 million in additional funding for transit agencies in New York.

She also advocates including mechanisms to speed funding for ready-to-go transportation projects as part of the federal government's economic stimulus strategy.

"It takes too long and it costs too much to deliver transit projects," despite high and growing demand for more public transportation across the country, she said.

Noting that when President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation authorizing the federal interstate highway system in 1956, the act launched the largest American public works program in history, Clinton said developing transit is a similar opportunity to leave a tangible legacy.

"Just as we built a 19th century transportation system with canals and railroads and we built a 20th century transportation system with highways, we now can build a 21st century transportation system with mass transit," she said.

By CATHY WOODRUFF, Business writer
Times Union, Albany, NY



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