PARKERSBURG - Transportation is a tool of economic development and more must be done to maintain and enhance transportation routes to generate growth, a federal official said Tuesday.
United States Transportation Department Deputy Secretary John Porcari spoke to members of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, the Chamber Government Relations committee and the Parkersburg Downtown Development Task Force during a roundtable discussion Tuesday at the Blennerhassett Hotel.
Porcari spoke about the goals of the federal transportation budget and elements of President Barack Obama's proposed 2013 budget.
Photo by Michael Erb
United States Transportation Department Deputy Secretary John Porcari speaks during a roundtable discussion Tuesday at the Blennerhassett Hotel.
Porcari said the United States has fallen behind many other world powers in terms of supporting its infrastructure, and more must be done to keep the various lanes of transportation open and running smoothly.
The transportation avenues of today "were paid for and built by our parents and our grandparents, and in some cases our great-grandparents," he said. "What we need to ask ourselves is are we doing right by our future generations, and the answer is no. We need to do better."
Porcari said several times that transportation needs to be used as a tool of economic development, and urged partnerships between government and private entities to help build on existing infrastructure, and government agencies must beginning planning projects with an eye to how those projects will hold up 30-50 years from now.
United States Transportation Department Deputy Secretary John Porcari spoke to members of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, the Chamber Government Relations committee and the Parkersburg Downtown Development Task Force Tuesday.
Porcari discussed President Obama's 2012 transportation budget.
Porcari said growing populations, aging populations and a desire to maintain "liveable" areas for those residents should all be areas of concern when looking at transportation plans.
"These are things you need to be thinking about," he said.
Obama's 2013 budget would include full funding for the federal Essential Air Service program, Porcari said.
"Air service is a critical part. It's as critical as having railroad access was 100 years ago. It's as critical as having highway access was years ago," he said. "The Essential Air Service program exists for a reason, and here locally is a great example of it. We believe it is an economic imperative for communities that have it."
Porcari said Obama's proposed budget increases access to federal stimulus project dollars but requires more transparency by government entities that use the money. Porcari also said a House version of the bill would remove many of the community-level grants, such as Safe Routes to School or walking and biking trail development, from funding.
"We don't think that is right," he said. "We think that is an essential part of transportation, not something that is just nice to have it. We disagree very strongly with the House proposal to take that out of highway funding."