Mayors Calls For Stronger National Commitment to Transit and Smart Growth in the Reauthorization of TEA-21
Mayors Barr, McCrory, Anderson, Franklin Join "Rail-Volution" in Washington, D.C.
By Ron Thaniel
October 21, 2002
"Rail-Volution," a national three-day conference held in Washington October 3-6 brought together a cross section of concerned citizens, business leaders, academics, federal, state and local officials.
The conference is geared to maintaining a national commitment to smart growth in the reauthorization of TEA-21.
Mayors as featured speakers included Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth L. Barr, Chair of the Conference of Mayors Transportation and Communications Committee, Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory, Chair of the Environment Committee, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Chair of the Travel and Tourism Task Force, and Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.
Speaking on panels and plenary sessions, the mayors echoed the strength of metropolitan areas driving the nation's economy; however, also addressed threats to the continued performance of the metropolitan areas including increasing congestion and too little federal and state investment in transit and smart growth principles.
Emphasizing the need for smart growth investment, Mayor Barr quoted Neil Peterson of the state of Maryland's Department of Planning stating that "Smart Growth in transportation is not about spending no money on highway and diverting it all to transit; its about where and how you spend your money on both focusing on your resources."
Mayor Barr further noted "as local elected officials we have to focus on where growth is concentrated and can best be accommodated and where infrastructure is already in place to planned to support it."
Mayor Barr reported that "the theme of this year's Rail-Volution centers on examining these "Smart Growth" concepts. In addition it focuses on wise land-use, creative resource utilization, consideration of viable options, and developing key partnerships."
"In our metroplex, we drew upon all of these elements to build one of our region's most successful rail projects, a commuter rail system between Dallas and Fort Worth," said Mayor Barr.
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson highlighted the benefits of transit investment highlighting rail transit, including improved air quality leading to improved health, reduction of traffic and congestion, smart growth, mobility freedom and community interaction.
Mayor McCrory noted that "investing in public transportation helps our cities and towns meet the mobility needs of all our citizens." Highlighting Charlotte's land use plan, Mayor McCrory said that the land use vision "calls for creating higher density, mixed use and pedestrian-friendly development in these areas. The vision recognized the need to develop a comprehensive public transit system, including rapid transit in the five corridors, to support this change in land development."
Mayor Franklin in a discussion focused on the next surface transportation authorization, called on the Federal Transit Administration to challenge the Administration to maintain current matching share for the transit program as authorized under TEA-21, 80 percent federal and 20 percent local.
Rail~Volution started in 1989 as a series of outreach and advocacy events geared towards developing real advocates for the Portland metropolitan region's MAX Light Rail System. At the conference in 1994, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (District 3, Oregon) announced that in 1995, Rail~Volution would become a national conference. From this point, Rail~Volution acted as a loose federation of sponsoring Partners and Affiliates, united by common interests and dedication.
To date, it has attracted representatives from 48 states, the District of Columbia, and hundreds of cities from all over the world. To find out more about the Rail-Volution Conference, please visit the Rail-Volution Website at railvolution.com