Re-Imagine and Modernize the Nation’s Transportation Infrastructure
Our cities are ground zero in terms of the nation’s congestion, traffic safety, economic mobility, and transportation sustainability challenges. Immediate and collective effort is needed to bring together all available tools – technology, infrastructure, operations, regulations, funding, financing, and energy – to help deliver a seamless mobility experience today and long into the future.
Immediate attention is needed to protect the gains of the past, and further action is needed to plan, build, and fully integrate a transportation network capable of providing seamless regional and local mobility, reducing congestion, increasing opportunity, enhancing resiliency, improving air quality, and maintaining our position as global economic leaders for decades to come.
Public investment in our nation’s transportation infrastructure must make the lives of all Americans better – not just those living in cities, but those who work in them and the communities that surround them as well. Public investment in our transportation infrastructure connects people to jobs and homes, makes communities safer and more accessible, and helps businesses prosper – leading to growth in local, regional, and national economies. It must also connect today’s economic opportunities with tomorrow’s population realities.
Mayors recognize and embrace the bipartisan nature of funding for transportation specifically and infrastructure broadly, including efforts to stabilize and grow funding and streamline project delivery. As transportation projects are often multi- year undertakings requiring significant planning, predictability, and capital commitments, guaranteed funding as well as regulatory certainty are absolutely crucial to advancing needed improvements and reducing and/or managing costs.
For too many years, federal underinvestment in our airports, bridges, roads, ports, transit systems, and other facilities has resulted in additional deterioration or delayed maintenance that has cost local taxpayers money, hurt our economic growth, and made some of our infrastructure unsafe. Although many cities have taken bold steps to increase local and regional commitments to transportation, Washington now needs to step up and do more to partner with, incentivize, and reward cities for taking action.
While the nation continues to extract considerable economic output from the nation’s existing infrastructure, including our vast network of transit lines, rail lines, roads, pipes, and other facilities, the rate of future economic growth is at risk as deferred maintenance mounts and strategic new investments are delayed. This underinvestment or “investment gap,” which measures the additional resources needed to sustain existing networks and undertake necessary expansions, continues to grow, and has been widely documented for the various infrastructure areas.
To the extent there has been any significant growth in our funding commitments to transportation infrastructure, that growth has been led by local officials and their cities and counties. In a recent Conference of Mayors’ analysis of three key infrastructure sectors (airports, highways, and public transit), cities and other local governments raised their new revenue commitments in these areas at a faster rate than their federal and state partners.
Despite this growth in local transportation funding commitments, as well as in other local infrastructure sectors, the nation’s overall infrastructure investment level – all governmental commitments combined – continues to decline as a share of our Gross National Product. This trend is particularly alarming as our transportation infrastructure ages and further exceeds its design life at the same time that new challenges, such as the need to “harden” existing transportation facilities to reduce or minimize disruptions from disasters and other climatic events, are emerging.
To reverse this decline in our transportation infrastructure investment, and to meet our new challenges and emerging opportunities, mayors call on the President and Congress to:
Bridges, Roads, and Transit
- Secure the highway trust fund, first established in the 1950s, so that the federal government can continue to partner with city, county, and state leaders as they work to repair, maintain and expand the nation’s vital transportation networks.
- Make public transit investment a higher priority to support local and regional efforts to increase connectivity, access, and frequency of services to better serve all residents, especially those who are transit dependent.
- Reward cities that embrace new initiatives and innovations that help local areas continue to grow and prosper, including those that advance complete streets and safety first outcomes, improve transit access and services, promote transit adjacent housing, reduce air pollutants that threaten public health, curb transportation emissions that fuel climate change, and harden existing transportation facilities and networks to make them more resilient to climatic events.
- Support continuing local efforts to address future transportation needs of cities and their surrounding communities. Help deploy new transportation technologies and update local regulatory regimes to address autonomous vehicles, unmanned air taxis, and Hyperloop pilots, among other technologies, and to embrace shared mobility services and resources that expand travel options in cities and their regions and increase the throughput of urban networks serving people and vehicles.
- Direct more highway dollars – through the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program and other programs – to support mayors and other officials in their regions who show how locally-initiated transportation solutions grow the economy faster and deliver more travel options to more people, among other benefits.
Airports and Ports
Airports and Ports
- Modernize the nation’s airports – especially important now, as more people than ever before are flying, and airports are straining to keep pace – by directing more FAA program dollars to local airport capital projects and by empowering individual airport operators to raise more capital funds from passengers using their airports (i.e., raising the cap on Passenger Facility Charges).
- Spend down the funds now being collected by users of our port facilities and stop diverting these funds to other governmental purposes, which is especially important now with our harbors and other ports facing so many unmet infrastructure needs.