Ed Talks: More Voices Weighing in on Infrastructure Funding Crisis

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) Midyear Meeting in the city made famous by The Freedom Trail, baked beans, marathons, New England seafood and one of the most beloved baseball stadiums.

While there, I was able to tour Fenway Park and it is everything you can imagine: a major slice of Americana. The history and neighborhood around the stadium reinforce that building geographic and regional brands has become an economic machine throughout our great country.

But that growth wouldn’t have been possible without something equally as American: infrastructure. The United States’ transportation system is responsible for all the daily markers — residents safely moving about, businesses being able to operate, and citizens enjoying a good quality of life or being able to seize new opportunities — that are signs of our national strength.

Boston, however, is only one of the places I’ve visited in the past several months where newer and better transportation has emerged as a leading concern. I’ve also travelled to Arizona, Dallas, Florida, Kentucky, New Orleans and South Dakota, among others, and people want to know where the promised good infrastructure legislative package is.

This is why the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition is working hard to tell America’s infrastructure story through numerous faces and voices. In one ATM video, I spoke about the pressing need to modernize our nation’s deteriorating infrastructure now because we know that delaying action costs us and the public more.

Broad messages such as this are shared and promoted through various ATM communication pieces and channels, including videos and audio podcasts featuring our members.

This is a short list of some of these: 

— American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear discussed the barriers caused by extreme political ideologies. He also focused on the need for raising the federal fuel tax because America needs a vision that is proactive and sustainable and will move us beyond piecemeal and reactive policies;

Matt Cummings, Chairman of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and Executive Vice President of AECOM, and Christina Atchley, Director of Congressional & Public Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hit on the importance of America staying globally competitive in the areas of infrastructure and transportation, and our leaders providing reliable funding;

— President and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Paul P. Skoutelas discussed the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and why public transit needs to be an aspect of improving America’s transportation system; and

— Terry O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), spoke about the necessity of infrastructure being a timely and bipartisan issue.

In closing, I’d like to point out that a 2018 poll showed Massachusetts residents believe transportation and related funding are as important as healthcare and the economy.

Days before I was in Boston, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a second Federal Transit Administration funding installment in the form of a release of a $225 million federal grant agreement for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Green Line Extension (GLX) light rail project.

Unfortunately, as we wait for our policymakers to put America first, these kinds of scenarios will crop up as just a pittance of what’s required to meet America’s mounting transportation needs.

Nonetheless, the DOT announcement confirms what we all are deftly communicating: our country’s interdependent and nationally linked transportation network benefits from federal funding and effective financing programs.

Thank you for being a part of ATM, keep up the great work everyone, and enjoy your summer.

Ed Mortimer

Executive Director of ATM & Vice President of Transportation and Infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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