With America’s public transportation, roads, bridges and rail systems in critical need of renewal, government officials, business and labor leaders, community groups and transportation advocates gathered at Dilworth Park today – National Transportation Infrastructure Day – to Stand Up 4 Transportation. Similar events were held across the country.
Among the speakers at Dilworth Park were: former Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell, Co-Chair of Building America’s Future; Acting FTA Administrator Therese McMillan; Acting PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards; U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, Chairman, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah; U.S. Rep. Robert A. Brady; U.S. Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick; U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan; SEPTA Board Chairman and Pa. Turnpike Commission Member Pasquale T. “Pat” Deon; Gerard H. Sweeney, President, CEO and Trustee, Brandywine Realty Trust and Philadelphia Regional Port Authority Chairman; Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO President Patrick J. Eiding; Patrick B. Gillespie, Business Manager, Philadelphia Building and Trades Council; Ryan Boyer, Business Manager, Laborers District Council of the Metropolitan Area Philadelphia & Vicinity and DRPA Chairman; and Tom Caramanico, P.E., President, McCormick Taylor Inc.. They addressed a large coalition of citizens, businesses, labor organizations, community groups, transportation advocates and other residents who gathered to highlight the tremendous economic impact of our highways and transit systems and urge critical federal action and investment in our nation’s infrastructure. Attendees also interacted with a number of exhibits about local, state and national transportation impact, and had an opportunity to learn about career opportunities in the transportation industry.
While the rally featured speakers from a wide-range of organizations and backgrounds, they united under one common theme: Transportation is the backbone of our economy – and now is the time to invest in renewing its critical infrastructure in the Philadelphia region and across the country. This message has added urgency with the looming May 31 expiration of the current extension of the U.S. Highway Trust Fund, which supports the federal highway and transit programs.
“In the next 30 years, the U.S. will be home to 70 million more people, and public transit will provide a critical link for them to get to work, school, medical care and other vital services,” said Acting FTA Administrator Therese McMillan. “With a long-term transportation bill, we will not just be filling the potholes. We will foster better transit systems and transportation innovation in ways we may not have thought possible just a few years ago.”
“Transportation is the engine of American prosperity, yet the condition of the nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems now jeopardizes the very prosperity and security that our once-vibrant transportation system made possible,” said Pasquale T. “Pat” Deon, SEPTA Board Chairman and member of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. “Transportation is the backbone of our local and national economy. A long-term transportation bill is needed for better and expanded transportation options, and to continue to grow our economy.”
“A comprehensive annual investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure is guaranteed to pay enormous dividends in jobs, growth, and safety on our highways, waterways and railways,” said Gerard H. Sweeney, President and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust and chairman of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. “This is an issue everyone can rally around.”
Added Rob Wondering, President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce: “The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce is proud to Stand Up 4 Transportation because we recognize that a long-term financial commitment to our transportation infrastructure is crucial to the competitiveness of our region.”
“The Center City District is pleased to host this important Stand Up 4 Transportation event in the all-new Dilworth Park, gateway to three important transit lines that are key to the city’s and the region’s economic competitiveness and success,” said Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the Center City District, which manages Dilworth Park. “Without key federal transportation funding and a strong commitment from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia, the transformation of Dilworth Park could not have been accomplished.”
“In order for the Port of Philadelphia to maintain its competitive edge in the global marketplace, we need to continually prepare our facilities for new opportunities and projections of trade growth,” said James T. McDermott Jr., executive director of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. “We need a reliable funding solution that allows us to meet our current needs and aggressively plan for the future.”
Megan Syrnick, President of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Philadelphia, said: “WTS Philadelphia stands up for transportation because Pennsylvania leads the nation in overall percentage of structurally deficient bridges. We know we can’t afford to neglect our infrastructure any longer, and we invite you to join us and Stand Up 4 Transportation.”
“Make no mistake – this is all about jobs, civic vitality and livability for Philadelphia, the Commonwealth and the nation,” added Peter Javsicas of Pennsylvanians for Transportation Solutions Inc. (PenTRANS), a coalition of advocates working to improve transportation.
James Markham, Associate Vice President of Pennoni Associates Inc., a Philadelphia-based engineering firm, said: “Pennoni stands up for transportation because it impacts everyone, every single day. Reliable transportation infrastructure allows us all to get to work, home or school. It is critical too for the growth of our economy. And there is not a better day than today, National Transportation Infrastructure Day, to Stand Up 4 Transportation and demonstrate the importance of infrastructure.”
Natalie E. Cornell, Director of Business Development, LTK Engineering Services, noted: “Congress has not passed a fully-funded, multi-year transportation authorization in 10 years. LTK Engineering Services supports SEPTA and Stand Up 4 Transportation Day because regional and national transportation infrastructure needs can only be met with a sustained period of Federal funding at appropriate levels.”
Independence Blue Cross, sponsor of Philadelphia’s new bike-sharing program Indego, also lent their support: “The Indego bike share system will provide yet another way for Philadelphians, commuters and visitors to get around our great city. Independence Blue Cross’s sponsorship of Indego is a natural extension of our commitment to the health and well-being of the people and communities we serve”, said Daniel J. Hilferty, President and CEO of Independence Blue Cross. “We’re thrilled to be part of this exciting effort that helps residents and visitors alike experience our world class city through a world class transportation system.”
“Amtrak is proud to Stand Up 4 Transportation,” said Stephen Gardner, Executive Vice President-Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Investment Development. “Infrastructure investment is key to growing our economy and improving our nation. At a time when demand for Amtrak service is at record levels, more federal investment must follow to improve, expand and replace the aging infrastructure that supports the intercity passenger system. Predictable, dedicated multi-year funding to build new tracks, tunnels, bridges, stations, equipment and other rail infrastructure will keep Amtrak advancing and its customer base growing.”
For more information about regional and national transportation needs, visit the American Public Transportation Association website at www.apta.com.