Readers of the Fast Lane will recall that last Friday I returned to the Motor City to announce a big step forward in federal support for greater Detroit's M-1 Rail project. As significant as that announcement is for the people and businesses of the metropolitan Detroit region, it's also important to remember that it is just the latest sign of the Obama Administration's support for America's cities.
In fact, later that same day, I returned to Washington, DC, to speak to the Transportation and Communications Committee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. And although we talked about many specifics--including how the new surface transportation law affects our cities, innovative transportation project financing, and transit safety--my primary message was one of partnership.
For the past four years, we at DOT have enjoyed effective partnerships at many levels that have allowed us to improve our nation's infrastructure and transportation safety while also putting thousands of men and women back to work. Whether it's with State DOTs, independent safety organizations, or other federal agencies, teaming up with others has allowed us to do our job that much better.
And through these four years, we have had no better partners than America's mayors.
I've been to more than 200 communities in the United States, and I can assure you that our mayors are getting the job done.
They have been strong advocates--like Philadelphia's Michael Nutter--for improving existing transportation infrastructure. They have been bold--like Sacramento's Kevin Johnson--proposing dramatic extensions of existing infrastructure. They have been persistent--like Detroit's Dave Bing--steadfastly championing big ideas, building critical momentum and public-private support. They have been visionary--like Dubuque's Roy Buol--looking at dormant factories and mills and seeing a vibrant, livable future. They have been forward thinking--like Tulsa's Dewey Bartlett--recognizing the value of inland ports to our economic and environmental future.
Some of our mayors have demonstrated all of these qualities. Mayor Kasim Reed, for example, has been a staunch advocate for improving Atlanta's roadways while also supporting innovative projects like the Atlanta Streetcar. Through his leadership, our federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities has been able to make terrific progress in a terrific American city.
These are but a few examples of the great tradition of American mayors. And they have without a doubt made it easier for us at DOT to do the work of keeping our economy competitive with effective transportation and ensuring the safety of everyone whenever they use our roadways, railways, or runways.
As we begin a new four years, we still have much to do. We have infrastructure needs and we need to keep improving transportation safety. And we most certainly must continue putting Americans back to work.
It's a tremendous responsibility; it's a tremendous challenge. But the leadership--and partnership--of our nation's mayors helps ensure our success.