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Today, on the heels of the Wall Street bailout and hours before the final presidential debate, local mayors and public interest leaders joined together to call on the next President and Congress to strengthen our local and national economies by building a 21st Century transportation system.
At the Arizona State Capitol, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, Sonoran Institute, ASU’s Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory and Goodyear Vice-Mayor Rob Antoniak along with allies in the Transportation for America Campaign (T4) across the country, released Build for America: A Five-Point Plan to get our Economy Moving. This bold economic agenda has the potential to create millions of good, green jobs across the country, save Americans thousands of dollars per year, and reduce America’s dependence on oil.
According to Alex Nelson, representative for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, “With high gas prices, decreasing household budgets and a lagging economy, we can strengthen our state and communities by building a 21st Century transportation system. By improving our transportation system, we can create jobs, save Arizonans money, reduce our dependence on oil, bring down Arizona’s global warming emissions, and decrease air pollution and its adverse public health impacts such as asthma attacks.”
Vice-Mayor Rob Antoniak of Goodyear added, “With challenges like unpredictable gas prices and a lagging economy, it’s clear to me that pursuing multi-modal transportation solutions will ultimately create high-quality jobs and reduce the financial burdens Arizona's families are facing.”
The U.S. already spends $70 billion a year on transportation infrastructure, and many are calling on Congress to do what has been done in every recent recession and invest more to stimulate economic recovery. However, simply using that money to build highway projects conceived in the last century is unlikely to help, the T4 coalition warned.
In Arizona, researchers believe that there is a great need to move towards a new transportation system. “At Arizona State University, we are working on two initiatives - one on multimodal transportation opportunities, and the other on post-petroleum urban design,” said Nancy Levinson, Director of ASU’s Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory at the College of Design. “Both projects are motivated by the critical need to develop transportation solutions that move beyond the highway-driven system of the 20th century.”
Build for America calls for investment in public transit, high-speed and intercity rail, neighborhoods that are less car-dependent, more walkable and more affordable, and restoring the thousands of roads and bridges in failing condition across the United States. Specifically, the coalition is asking the next President and Congress to work together to:
1. BUILD TO COMPETE with China and Europe, by modernizing and expanding our rail and transit networks to reduce oil dependence, connect the metro regions that are the engines of the modern economy.
2. INVEST FOR A CLEAN, GREEN RECOVERY through cleaner vehicles and new fuels as well as the cleanest forms of transportation – modern public transit, walking and biking – and for energy-efficient, sustainable development.
3. FIX WHAT’S BROKEN before building new roads and restore our crumbling highways, bridges and transit systems.
4. STOP WASTEFUL SPENDING and re-evaluate projects currently in the pipeline to eliminate those with little economic return that could deepen our oil dependence.
5. SAVE AMERICANS MONEY. Provide more travel and housing options that are affordable and efficient, while helping people to avoid high gas costs and traffic congestion. Save taxpayer dollars by asking the private developers who reap real estate rewards from new rail stations and transit lines to contribute toward that service.
“Giving more local control of how our transportation dollars are spent is a high priority. Arizona developed around the highway, and with high gas prices, we need transportation alternatives and choice. Before we develop and widen new roads, let’s fix what we have, add new alternatives, and get our economy going again by investing in America and Arizona,” stated Dave Richins, Councilmember for the City of Mesa and representative of the Sonoran Institute.
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