U.S. Department of Transportation’s Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan, along with transportation infrastructure supporters across the country, highlighted the need for long-term transportation funding to support a robust and sustainable transportation system. McMillan participated in Philadelphia’s Stand Up for Transportation rally at Dilworth Park outside City Hall on April 9, one of dozens of events held across the country detailing the importance of investing in the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
“The lack of a long-term federal funding bill results in tremendous uncertainty for local transportation projects that otherwise would support millions of American jobs repairing and modernizing our nation’s roads, rails and transit systems,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The GROW AMERICA Act would provide six years of funding certainty, increased investment in infrastructure, and policies that streamline our processes to ensure communities enjoy the benefits of transportation improvements.”
Joining Acting Administrator McMillian were Chairman Bill Shuster, other Congressional representatives from Pennsylvania, former Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell, and Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards. McMillan voiced support for the GROW AMERICA Act, which would help transit agencies across the country maintain and modernize their systems. She pointed out that about half of Americans lack access to safe and reliable transit and praised local leaders who oversaw renovations at Dilworth Park in 2012 to connect four transit modes as an example of effective transportation planning.
“In the next 30 years, the U.S. will be home to 70 million more people, and public transit will provide a critical link for them to get to work, school, medical care and other vital services,” McMillan said. “With a long-term transportation bill, we will not just be filling potholes. We will foster better transit systems and transportation innovation in ways we may not have thought possible just a few years ago.”
The GROW AMERICA Act would increase the federal funding commitment to transit by over 70%, part of which would address an estimated $86 billion backlog – and growing – in transit system maintenance and repair needs. The funds also would aid local transit agencies in expanding services to provide better connections for riders in cities, small towns, suburbs and rural areas, and in implementing new technologies to serve predicted increases in ridership. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, four states have canceled or delayed $780 million in transportation improvement projects and another nine – including Pennsylvania – say over $1.8 billion is at risk because of continued uncertainty over whether Congress will take action soon to fix the ailing Highway Trust Fund (HTF).
The Philadelphia rally was attended by hundreds of transportation supporters, including representatives from labor; business and environmental groups gathered on a public square that received $15 million in federal transportation funding through the Department’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. The formerly dilapidated plaza in front of historic City Hall now links Philadelphia’s extensive network of transit lines, including subway, trolley, regional rail and buses in a pedestrian-friendly setting.