New Report Highlights Ways to Move Transportation Forward

The University of Virginia’s Miller Center released a report highlighting seven recommendations for the president to affect the outcome of the next surface transportation reauthorization bill.

“A Blueprint for Presidential Leadership” is the result of extensive deliberations during the 2013 David R. Goode National Transportation Policy conference which since 2009 has brought together leading thinkers in transportation policy from the academy and the public and private sectors to answer the nation’s infrastructure challenges and develop a bipartisan way forward.

Most notable of the participants were six former U.S. Department of Transportation secretaries: Jim Burnley, Sam Skinner, Andrew Card, Rodney Slate, Norman Mineta and Mary Peters.

The 70-page report states, “America’s transportation infrastructure is in a state of disrepair, and existing policy is unable to meet the nation’s current and future needs. Informed by the deliberations of the 2013 Goode Conference, the Miller Center proposes seven recommendations the president can act on to change the trajectory and chart a new course in transportation policy – one that will ensure the fast and efficient movement of people, goods, ideas and information necessary in the 21st century global economy.

Conference participants noted the following seven recommendations:

  • Change the Narrative. The nation’s transportation needs must be recast in a new, compelling narrative in order to attract the public’s attention. The president’s message must include a positive, forward-looking tone; a well-defined but flexible campaign plan keyed to political rhythms; and a concerted effort to link local transportation investments with national goals like jobs and economic growth.
  • Get Creative on Funding. Americans have enjoyed an ever-increasing freedom in personal mobility, but the current funding mechanisms are insufficient for the transportation needs of today and tomorrow. In this current era of fiscal constraint, the president must “think outside the box” and devise creative, new options to secure steady and reliable revenue streams.
  • Leverage New Technology. Over the next decade, a series of groundbreaking technological advances are expected to dramatically reshape society. The president’s transportation vision must harness the power of cloud computing, advanced energy extraction, the Internet of Things, and other emerging technologies and leverage these breakthroughs to create a smarter and better-connected infrastructure.
  • Seize Bipartisan Opportunity. Although consensus is difficult to reach on many aspects of transportation policy, there are several ideas that enjoy near-universal support from both branches of government and both parties. The president should work with congress to quickly enact popular, attainable proposals, such as restructuring the air traffic control system and crafting a national freight plan.
  • Disentangle the System. As transportation systems and the policies governing them increase in complexity, the number of invested parties and players also expands. The president must work to streamline America’s transportation governance structure in order to minimize duplicative efforts and remove unnecessary red tape on worthwhile projects.
  • Engage the Private Sector. Private investment in infrastructure holds significant potential for budget relief, enhanced project efficiency, and the injection of much-needed capital. With proper safeguards in place, the president should take the lead in securing an easier path for public-private partnerships to play a larger role in infrastructure management and funding.
  • Lead the Way, Mr. President. No president has enacted significant transportation legislation without inserting himself into the policy process. Personal and sustained presidential attention, including engagement with congressional leaders, will elevate transportation policy in the national consciousness and increase the odds of progress.

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