President Unveils Ambitious 6-Year Transportation Program Including $53 Billion Plan for High-Speed Rail

Yesterday the President sent his 2012 budget to Congress. It included an ambitious proposal for a 6-year, $556 billion surface transportation program, including $53 billion for high-speed rail. Details of the FY 2012 Department of Transportation budget can be downloaded here.

Such a large number for the 6-year transportation program (above even former Chairman Oberstar's proposal in 2009) signals the President is serious about "winning the future" through investments in infrastructure that enhance our nation's economic competitiveness.

The proposal also front loads approximately $50 billion worth of transportation programs in FY 2012 to stimulate job creation in this uncertain economy. It also indicates that transportation (and high-speed rail as a signature initiative) has moved to the front of the President's agenda, just in time to make a push for a 6-year authorization bill before the Presidential election cycle starts up again. America 2050 applauds the President for his bold leadership on this issue and looks forward to receiving more details on specific reforms that underpin the budget proposal.

The White House has not yet offered details on how to pay for the program, despite the plenitude of feasible but politically unpalatable revenue options. (A new report we worked on with AASHTO detailing funding and financing solutions for transportation.) A new infrastructure survey by the Rockefeller Foundation published yesterday in the Washington Post found that voters say improving transportation infrastructure is highly important and that our current system is inadequate, yet they are resistant to backing taxes to pay for it. Even so, a majority of voters were open to private investment, a National Infrastructure Bank, and eliminating subsidies for American oil companies to drill in other countries. Read more about the poll here.