Transportation leaders from across the country are gathered in New York City this week to talk about what they are doing to make America's cities vibrant, attractive centers of activity. It's all part of the National Association of City Transportation Officials' conference, "Designing Cities: Leading the Way to World-Class Streets." And I was happy to help get things started for them this morning.
Between all that this Administration has done for transportation in our nation's cities--large and small--and all that the new transportation bill that President Obama signed this summer allows us to continue doing, there was plenty to talk about.
What does transportation have to do with making cities vibrant and attractive? Quite a lot.
A few weeks ago, I was in Los Angeles to announce DOT support for a new light rail transit line that will connect downtown L.A., nearby cities in L.A. County, and the free shuttle to LAX. Through this TIFIA loan, we're helping hard-working families gain a safe, affordable alternative to driving.
In Denver, the old Union Station is becoming a regional transportation hub and a focal point for commercial development, including new housing.
And in Dubuque, Iowa, the historic Millwork District has a chance to thrive as part of an initiative that is converting old buildings into housing, offices, and retail connected by sidewalks and streets that work for motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit riders.
I could go on--about the transit-oriented development that’s helping cities like Phoenix and Mesa create strong economic growth, or the streetcars connecting people, businesses, services, and activities in Fort Lauderdale, Portland, and New Orleans.
I could point to the bike paths and bike-share systems popping up in cities across the country—from Minneapolis to Miami. I could point to New York where the Sustainable Streets plan is making it safer for kids to walk to school, ensuring that seniors can get around, and creating popular public spaces.
There are dozens of other projects that demonstrate the astonishing new vitality that transportation has helped bring to our nation's cities. And every step of the way, the Obama Administration has supported the effort to create the world-class streets Americans deserve.
During this week's conference one topic on everyone's mind will be NACTO's just-released Urban Street Design Guide, which documents the design principles and strategies that the nation’s largest cities are adopting to confront new and growing demands on their streets.
From Bus Rapid Transit to bikeways and public seating, the guide showcases a new model for streets that work better for cities and the people who live, work, and own businesses in them. And not just better in terms of livability--as the data that accompanied today's release indicates, this model is better in terms of business income, jobs and economic growth.
Look, when President Obama first asked me to do this job, we had a lot of work ahead of us. We were facing the greatest economic crisis in over a generation, and our infrastructure was in desperate need of repair.
Since then, this Administration has made unprecedented investments in our nation’s transportation system. We’ve put people to work on our roads, bridges and rails—in cities big and small. Across the country, we’ve made it easier to ride a bike, walk to work, or catch a bus.
And this week, when city transportation leaders meet to talk about designing the world-class streets of the 21st century, we will be there still, continuing to support their efforts.
The new transportation bill that President Obama signed into law this summer, MAP-21, allows DOT to continue our commitment to improving the quality of life in communities nationwide. And I know that the transportation leaders gathered in New York this week share that commitment and will take the tools MAP-21 provides and use them to continue transforming America's cities.