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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8 Responses to Visionary Words By Senate Candidate Maurice Ferré

  1. […] Visionary Words By Senate Candidate Maurice Ferre | Transit Miami […]

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  2. Prem says:

    We can’t spend trillions of dollars on wars. We are and will continue to experience the effects of that massive spending for a long time to come.
    I’m also not very confident dumping a trillion dollars into centrally planned transportation systems will work out better.

    The evidence for my pessimism is the insurmountable deficits every transit agency in the country faces. (Am I wrong? Is there a transit agency that can pay its own bills?)

    Visionary? Really sounds like the same old crap. Spend lots and lots of money on projects which will “increase employment” and “bring benefits to the community”

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  3. transitnerd says:

    Prem, those transit agencies have always been treated as the stepchildren of society and are the perfect example of self fulfilling prophecies. If you make the services legitimate to society by building what people need as well as what people want close to the transit it increases likelihood people will use the service. Granted the other approach works as well, build the transit around the needed parts of the city. Adding intercity travel will only bolster transit by finally working as a transit whole. We must integrate inter and intra city travel if we expect those systems to work cohesively and in any manner that will actually work. For instance, if Tampa and orlando are unable to overhaul there local transit agencies they will never have as successful of high-speed line between the two cities as they could have. Once, locals see that the transit needs are taken care of once they get to the city more will be inclined to utilize both services. I agree about your visionary statement but for different reasons, this is not visionary, in the 1970s it would have been visionary, now it is more necessity. It is necessity because our major cities are out of room, out of room for roads. If you consider studies for I-95 you will realize it has no where to go, no where to expand to, feasibly, economincally. Thank God. So the option is increase inter city transit (e.g., BRT, Light Rail, ect.) or suffer the consequences of traffic delays that will turn travel more into parking your car. That is what the environmentalist want us to do any way, but I would hope we choose to be practical and park them because we have newer more efficient methods of travel. Just some thoughts.

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  4. Tony Garcia says:

    transit nerd: great reply.

    Prem, why are you still stuck on the notion that transit should pay for itself? Besides the fact that the trillion dollars that are needed for infrastructure is paid over a multiyear period, this amount covers improvements to ports, aging bridges, and yes transit expansion. the point is not that the ‘government shouldnt spend our money’ (which is faux-libertarian garbage) but that they spend our money on things that are useful for society. Ive asked you before: show me the school or police station or firs station that pays for itself?? They dont exist because we as a society acknowledge that they are not supposed to be profitable - only that we need them to have a functional civilization. So too can the same be said about public infrastructure.

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  5. M says:

    Just to add to what Tony said, we spend billions of dollars a year on roads and highways that do not pay for themselves. People think of roads and highways as “free” because there is not a user fee associated with them. They are not free. We pay for them through a variety of ways, and we pay a lot. Finding a variety of funding sources and a variety of ways to pay for transit (like we do for roads and highways) is the only way to make it work. No transit agency should be expected to pay for itself, otherwise it will never work. Just imagine if we all had the mentality that I-95 had to pay for itself. My guess is it would be a lot smaller and less utilized, just like transit agencies that are supposed to pay for themselves.

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  6. Prem says:

    In attempting to respond I’ll preface that I say what I mean, and am not implying anything otherwise. So for M, complaining about inefficient transit says nothing about roads. I know roads aren’t free, and that’s not even what we’re talking about.

    In Miami Dade, and elsewhere there are many non-subsidized forms of transportation, like the Miami Mini Bus. While the mini bus does not serve the entire community, it certainly serves the community BETTER than MDTransit because it does not burden the taxpayers for sustenance.
    Tony, ever heard of the volunteer fire department? One of my heroes, Kurt Vonnegut, was a volunteer fireman, wrote about that sort of thing often in his novels. That doesn’t exist in a place like Miami because there is NO community here. Communities solve problems, no governments.

    Those libertarian arguments you so quickly ignore, Tony, are the same arguments that said as early as ten years ago that we were in a housing bubble. Today the government has spent trillions trying to bring housing prices back up, but that inflationary spending does not solve our problems because their funding is NOT SUSTAINABLE.

    I find it a bit shocking that progressive transit advocates fail to see this fatal flaw. Investing money we don’t have is RUINING our nation. This trillion dollars over however many years will not come out of our pockets but our children’s. We have to borrow that money because we don’t have it. What’s worse, even moving forward with these projects will ensure that the least efficient method of action is pursued.
    Right now the state of Illinois is going through a budget crisis, with Union workers refusing to make any concession to help keep that state from imploding. From Unions, to no or few bid contracts, every project I’ve seen performed by the government in Florida, and Miami-Dade has been pathetic and sub-standard.

    From the crappy bike lanes on Federal High way to the many construction workers on Biscayne who spend most of their day WATCHING others, I fail to see how these “necessary” projects do anything to improve our community in the long run.

    For everyone’s sake why don’t we try to promote sustainable development, as opposed to just “progressive” and socially useful. I think history has long since vindicated the “faux-libertarian” argument that central planners don’t know what is socially useful, and by trying to impose certain lifestyle choices on the people only goes to dehumanize and objectify them.
    Miami Dade Transit doesn’t make decisions with their customers in mind, the same way County and City commissions don’t. They make decisions with themselves and their cohorts in mind.
    Maybe if we lived in a world where public officials SERVED the public I would be more optimistic about these absurd spending proposals, but while my county and its people live under the rule of self-satisfied bureaucrats i’ll stick to the skeptical and critical position.

    As a community it’s not only our responsibility to promote projects we like but to also FORCE our politicians to enact those projects with the BEST practices possible. This is not a standard we hold our politicians to at any level.
    It’s only after the fact that transit miami and others start complaining and moaning, but where were your concerns and complaints before these bad outcomes came about? Were you (not anyone in particular, i’m ranting) accepting the politician’s reach around when they promised a better future, but didn’t bother questioning their every move?

    It’s like at the Rickenbacher meeting last week. Almost everyone was bending over waiting for the commissioner to insert, but what I wanted to know was what they were doing to make sure this project was cost effective and would have the effects promised. What research and effort were put into ensuring best practices?
    NONE.

    okay, done with the rant for now ;)

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  7. […] Transit Miami likes what they hear from U.S. senatorial candidate Maurice Ferre. I think he hits on important […]

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  8. Kiki Galagan says:

    I’m really relieved that someone is addressing this issue. Many people seem to be ignoring the need to reinvest and redo our transportation system, focusing simply on other sources for fuel. What we really need is a new transportation infrastructure for better public lines. Florida, in particular, has one of the worst public transportation systems around, whether it be within cities or statewide, and one aspect of rebuilding our economy in light of the BP threat, remodeling our transit is integral in avoiding a further disaster. GJ Maurice!

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