Former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has called for national political bipartisanship in order to improve the country's transportation system, enhance its security, reduce congestion, and address its role in a global economy. He made the remarks July 6 upon departing the Department of Transportation, having announced his resignation in June, effective July 7.
Below are some of his comments:
"The United States has the strongest, fastest growing economy in the developed world because we have some of the world’s strongest transportation systems," he said. "But we will lose that competitive edge if we make a habit out of turning our noses up at investors in our seaports, airports, and highways just because they are headquartered outside the United States.
"Security is, and must always remain, a foremost concern. But it is pure folly to think that economic isolationism is an option in today’s interconnected world.
"We can and we must address the congestion that is so pervasive in today’s America before it seriously undermines our economic competitiveness and quality of life. Nationwide, the economic price tag of congestion is already a whopping $200 billion a year,
Whether an emergency is caused by a deliberate act of terrorism or results from a natural disaster or a health care crisis such as avian flu, we must be able to depend on our transportation systems to evacuate people in need, to move critical supplies and emergency workers, and to provide essential resources rapidly into affected areas.
"It is no coincidence that terrorists target our transportations systems. They are the heart of modern societies and modern economies. And I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to help strengthen the heartbeat of America’s transportation network during the first half-decade of the 21st Century.
"Some of what we have suggested will be controversial. It will necessitate a cultural change to move from a government-monopoly model for much of our transportation infrastructure toward acceptance of the private sector and market forces.
"If we can fix the policy problems, I am confident that the conditions will be ripe for substantial investment. Virtually every major financial institution on Wall Street has created – or is in the process of creating – an infrastructure fund with transportation as a major component. They correctly recognize the enormous potential in American infrastructure. And it is imperative that future transportation decision-makers continue to foster this interest, not take steps to discourage it."