US President Barack Obama announced a transportation infrastructure spending plan to expand and renew US roads, railways and runways. The plan envisions a front-loaded $50-billion investment in the first year. The plan would also reform the way the US currently invests in transportation and includes the creation of a Federal infrastructure bank.
Goals for the initiative over the next six years include the rebuilding of 150,000 miles of roads; constructing and maintaining 4,000 miles of rail; and rehabilitating or reconstructing 150 miles of runway while putting in place a NextGen air traffic control system that will reduce travel time and delays.
Obama is also proposing a long-term framework to reform and expand our nation’s investment in transportation infrastructure. Since the end of last year, when the last long-term surface transportation legislation expired, these investments have been continued on a temporary basis, and the trust fund to finance them has fallen into insolvency.
The long-term framework includes:
The establishment of an Infrastructure Bank to leverage federal dollars and focus on investments of national and regional significance that often fall through the cracks in the current siloed transportation programs;
The integration of high-speed rail on an equal footing into the surface transportation program to ensure a sustained and effective commitment to a national high speed rail system over the next generation;
Streamlining, modernizing, and prioritizing surface transportation investments, consolidating more than 100 different programs and focusing on using performance measurement and “race-to-the-top” style competitive pressures to drive investment toward better policy outcomes; and
Expanding investments in areas like safety, environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness, and livability.
The President proposes to make the initial up-front investment in the following areas: