Investing in Transportation Strengthens the Economy and Saves Lives

safestreetsact

Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer travel. But our nation’s transportation system is fraying at the seams. The pride we once took in the roads, bridges, and rails built by the Greatest Generation has given way to daily frustration at the disrepair that makes it harder to get where we need to go. The recent Amtrak tragedy is yet another sign that our transportation infrastructure is not what it needs to be.

It’s time to invest in the future. The U.S. cannot stay competitive in the 21st century if we get around as if we’re stuck in the 1950s. Over the past decade, the global economic competitiveness of U.S. transportation infrastructure fell from 1st place to 12th. Baby Boomers enjoyed the benefits of investments made by their parents and grandparents, and now we must renew our commitment to a modern, safe transportation system for our children and grandchildren.

Before Congress leaves for the Memorial Day recess, they must act to ensure continued funding for our nation’s surface transportation programs, set to expire on May 31st. While Congress may only act on a short-term patch, what is really needed is a longer-term five- or six-year bill with dependable funding. This will give states and local governments the certainty they need for long-term planning and letting out contracts. Unfortunately, it’s been nearly a decade since Congress passed a bill to address these long-term needs.

As Congress considers renewing the surface transportation law, it should be looking at ways to innovate and make transportation dollars go farther. We can see examples of such innovation from North Carolina to Washington State, and from Louisiana to Iowa. Smarter investments have significantly reduced road construction costs, provided safer trips and increased use. Many have also brought jobs and higher property values. Concern over pedestrian fatalities and injuries often drove communities to consider redesigning their roads – where nationally a pedestrian is killed every two hours, and one in five is age 65 or over.

The recent Amtrak tragedy is yet another sign that our transportation infrastructure is not what it needs to be.


Last week, I participated in the AARP Life@50+ National Event in Miami, Florida. For years, Florida had the most dangerous roads for pedestrians, but that is changing. Fortunately, the Florida Department of Transportation has developed statewide initiatives to make the roads safer for everyone, including those on foot.

Congress also has the opportunity to modernize the way roads are planned, built, and operated.  The Safe Streets Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH), would ensure that transportation planners and engineers consider the needs of all users when planning and constructing new or reconstructed, federally funded roads.  These important provisions should be included in the transportation bill rewrite. Let Congress know you agree and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 2071.

Congress must not delay making the commitment to invest in our nation’s transportation assets. Our country and our families deserve better.

 


 

Nancy LeaMond

Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of AARP's Community, State & National Affairs group, leads government relations, advocacy, public education, and volunteerism on behalf of Americans 50+. LeaMond also has responsibility for AARPs state operation, which includes offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

You can follow her on Twitter @NancyLeaMond .

 

 


Search AARP Blogs

Related Posts
December 11, 2018 10:07 AM
In an election year filled with partisanship and political fights, it’s no surprise that many Americans feel that their voices aren’t being heard or that the issues that affect their lives aren’t being addressed. But, many outstanding elected officials work hard every day to make a positive difference for their constituents.  That’s why AARP recognizes state legislators, governors, and other elected officials – from both sides of the aisle – who have stepped up and worked together to write, support, and advance common-sense policies that help older Americans remain in their homes and communities and retire with confidence. AARP is proud to announce our fifth annual bipartisan class of Capitol Caregivers, who fought this year to increase support for family caregivers and their loved ones, along with our fourth annual bipartisan class of Super Savers, who championed policies that enhance retirement security.
December 05, 2018 01:06 PM
Caroline is a mother of two children and a preschool teacher who unexpectedly became a family caregiver for her father after he suffered a major stroke. Her father, Tom, now deceased, lost the use of his right side and his ability to speak. Multiple surgeries and rehabilitation treatments later, he was able to live at home with the help of nurses. But it was up to Caroline to provide daily care, such as overseeing appointments and handling certain nursing responsibilities, like managing his medications. “I became the person my father could rely on more than anyone in the world,” Caroline said. “I became his safe place and his best friend.” In communities across the country, family caregivers like Caroline are caring for older parents, spouses and other loved ones, helping them to remain at home – where they want to be. Their tasks are done out of love and commitment, but are not easy. That’s why AARP is fighting for family caregivers and their loved ones in every state. In 2018, AARP advanced new policies to provide more help at home, flexibility at work, training, relief and more, which will benefit over 30 million family caregivers. Here are a couple highlights:
November 27, 2018 08:55 AM
A few months ago, I wrote a blog about the vital role that transportation options play in what we at AARP call “livable communities” – great places to live for people of all ages. Being able to get around is critical to earn a living, raise a family, contribute and stay connected to your community and enjoy life. And, having alternatives to getting behind the wheel of your own car is particularly important for older adults who want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.