If we can spend $1 Trillion in two useless wars, we can certainly spend $1 Trillion in overhauling and upgrading our transportation systems over the next ten years.
Welcome to the dog days of summer here in the Magic City- where something about the dead heat of summer makes people say bold and honest things (like the quote above). Take the case of aspiring democratic Senate candidate Maurice Ferré, whose speech before the Floridians for Better Transportation Conference today (excepted below) was a refreshingly bold statement about the changes that need to be made to Federal Transportation Policy. I think he hits on important points and outlines a progressive policy for transit expansion in the US. It is especially refreshing to hear a candidate for the United States Senate cite smart growth as a transportation priority for Florida. I wonder if any of the other candidates for Florida’s Senate seat - Republican, Independent or Democrat alike - are willing to establish a similarly progressive position on this important issue?
As a U.S. Senator, my strongest focus would be to promote an impetus to the U.S. economy based strictly on investing on infrastructure projects, mostly transportation.
For well over a year, the proposed Surface Transportation Act of 2009 (STA) has been pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, with conflicting legislation in the U.S. Senate, and no clear leadership from the White House.
It is my opinion that a $500 B Surface Transportation Act bill proposed by chairman James Overstar, with $450 B for our nations’ mobility and $50 B for High Speed Rail (HSR) is a very modest amount in view of transportation needs and the current critical need of an economic boost to our still faltering economy.
If we can spend $1 Trillion in two useless wars, we can certainly spend $1 Trillion in overhauling and upgrading our transportation systems over the next ten years. More than a half century later, we still feel the impact and the improved quality of life that came to America through Ike’s Interstate Highway project.
In my twenty-five years of public service, as a 12 year Mayor of Miami, a state legislator, and a county commissioner, I have always stressed the importance of transportation to Florida.
I especially learned by being in the Governors High Speed Rail Commission (in the mid nineties) and the last five years serving in the Miami Dade Expressway Authority (MDX)
Here is the conclusion of our State’s immediate transportation needs:
• We need to deepen our seaport channels to 50 ft. Miami’s is the cheapest and quickest, but we must also do Jacksonville and Tampa. By 2014 the new Panama Canal will completely change, with the use of post-Panamax ships, how goods go from China, Japan and Korea to the markets of the Eastern U.S. and Latin America. Florida’s future is in play. Our seaports need to be ready to compete by 2014.
• We must insure that our international airports remain competitive and viable, especially in international cargo.
• We must vigorously pursue and develop at least three viable and competitive integrated logistical centers (ILCs) - inland ports and cargo centers - where containers and freights are logistically moved between seaports, railcars and trucks. The Port of Miami was years ahead of its time with an ILC on the FEC’s 30 acres in Wynwood.
• The American Recovery and Reinstatement Act of 2009 (ARRA), the stimulus bill with almost $800 B., the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (RIIA) and the pending STA must be carefully focused and coordinated to propel the United States into the New Economy, along with a New Energy Plan and the incentivizing of small businesses in technology and innovation.
• Lastly, I strongly support the recommendations of the report from the Washington based Bipartisan Policy Center, “Performance Driven: A New Vision for US Transportation Policy” released June 2009. It is time for the U.S. to reevaluate our transportation costs, alternatives and funding, I also subscribe to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Transportation Policy Project, “New Starts: Lessons learned for discretionary Federal Transportation Funding Programs” released January 25, 2010. It’s time for new thinking.
The Urban Land Institute’s “Connecting Florida: The case for regional integrated Transit Systems” is also essential for adoption by this Florida Transportation Summit.
I submit the following points on Florida’s Transportation needs:
• Do not treat transportation as a project, treat it as a continuing process.
• New transportation processes must be wholistic, integrated and interchangeable so that the parts are both self standing and together improve the quality of life for Floridians.
• New technologies will make available what before was impossible: from impossible, to possible, to probable.
• New transportation processes must be economically viable and self paying when one takes into account ALL costs and ALL benefits as analyzed in “PERFORMANCE DRIVEN: A NEW VISION FOR U.S. TRANSPORTATION POLICY” released in June 2009 by the BIPARTISAN POLICY CENTER.
• New Transportation processes require intermodal connectivity (I.C.). I.C. provides a measureable, geometric progression of use. Just like social media is changing America, interconnected, multiple-choice transportation is the future for America.
• Utilize intermodal connectivity as a basis for new performance based measures. Understanding how our transportation network is connected – and establishing connectivity goals – will help us make better funding choices at all levels of government.
• We must superimpose new systems and technologies on old assets to change usage, BRT.
• New transportation processes must begin with smart growth oriented land development reform.
• Momentum for change must be built by aggressively expanding local transit options.
• New transportation processes and methods are not only for decongestion, added mobility and quality of life, but as a dynamic tool for economic development.
• The New Economy in the U.S. must be built on new renewable energy (10 year, 20 year plan); technology and innovation; and new infrastructure, mostly in new interconnected transportation systems.
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