RENEWING AMERICA'S COMMITMENT TO SURFACE TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
WHEREAS, more than 50 mayors and infrastructure leaders from across the nation met at The U.S. Conference of Mayors' Action Forum on Infrastructure in New York City August 13-14, 2008, to develop an action agenda for a renewed commitment to America's infrastructure; and
WHEREAS, following that meeting a working group of mayors drafted a national action agenda on infrastructure ; and
WHEREAS, that national action agenda includes a series of findings and recommendations for a new stronger relationship between the nation's mayors and the federal government to ensure that we update the country's antiquated infrastructure in ways that will keep us economically competitive, and do so in ways that are climate and energy centered; and
WHEREAS, the mayors and other leaders found that:
- With unpredictable and expected higher fuel prices, highway congestion, and an uncertain aviation outlook, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower transformed the nation through the Interstate Highway System, America needs a comprehensive National Rail Investment Plan; and
- Economic and environmental forces are repositioning intercity, commuter rail and other rail transit facilities and services a most promising and welcome alternative to uncertain fuel prices, worsening reliability and on-time performance at most major airports, and highway travel between destinations; and
- The bi-partisan National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Commission reported, intercity passenger rail is a critical missing link in the nation's transportation system; and
- It is in cities and their metropolitan areas where a broader range of surface transportation solutions are evaluated and pursued, whether this means deploying new technology, changing development practices to promote expanded travel options, or enhancing the performance of existing corridors through increased commitments to transit, high occupancy auto use and non-motorized travel; and
- Mayors and other local elected officials in their regions, especially in metropolitan areas, own and operate most of the transportation assets and facilities in their local areas and, as such, are best positioned to decide how to invest available transportation resources; and
- The current record shows that state governments through their state transportation departments have been unable to respond or adapt readily to the transportation challenges now before the nation, especially those before our metropolitan areas; and
- In recent years, states have used rising federal surface transportation commitments to largely substitute for their own new revenue commitments to highway and transit infrastructure, while still focusing on ever more costly new capacity to support single occupancy automobile travel; and
- As a result of state revenue constraints, states generally have moved away from projects that reflect local and metropolitan priorities, including congestion relief, transit investment, local bridge repair or improvements to support non-motorized travel,
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that The United States Conference of Mayors adopts as its policy the investments called for by the mayors in the National Action Agenda on Infrastructure:
- Adopt a national rail investment strategy that sets forth a long-term financial commitment to expand rail investment between and within cities and their metropolitan areas.
- Assist private rail carriers in raising needed capital to expand passenger and freight rail capacity to support increased freight and passenger volume by rail.
- Reform the current surface transportation law (e.g., change the "product line", make smarter use of available resources, fix what we have built already, and put local officials in charge of investment decisions in metro areas.
- Make the next surface transportation law more "climate and energy centered", through changes that focus more resources on expanding transit capacities and other travel options to help curb oil use in the transportation sector.
- Ensure that new highway and transit capacity investments in metropolitan areas are decided by local elected officials.
- Allocate available federal surface transportation funds to cities/metro areas, based on their relative share of economic output, redirecting a substantial share of the more than $40 billion annually in federal highway/transportation funding now allocated to state departments of transportation.
- Ensure that other infrastructure - facilities that support walking, bicycling and transit - is recognized equally with other capacity investments under federal law.
- Close the current funding gap in Highway Trust Fund.