San Francisco hosts one of eight events across the country, calling on all presidential candidates and Congress to build our way out of economic peril and into the 21st century
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, on the heels of the Wall Street bailout and hours before the final presidential debate, a coalition of Bay Area groups came together to call on the next President and Congress to strengthen our local and national economies by building a 21st Century transportation system.
At the downtown San Francisco Caltrain station, Greenbelt Alliance, CALPIRG, the Apollo Alliance, Reconnecting America, PolicyLink and national partners with the Transportation for America Campaign (T4) together released “Build for America: A Five-Point Plan to get our Economy Moving.” This bold economic agenda has the potential to create thousands of good, green jobs in the Bay Area and millions nationally, save Americans thousands of dollars per year, and reduce America’s dependence on oil.
“Building a world-class transportation system is essential to our economic success in the 21st century,” said Phil Angelides, chairman of the Apollo Alliance. “Transit and transportation are part of a larger energy and economic development strategy that will create millions of high quality green-collar jobs across America.”
“Investing in good public transportation will enable us to build greener and smarter,” said Jeremy Madsen, executive director of Greenbelt Alliance, the San Francisco Bay Area’s smart growth organization. “Gas prices, the foreclosure crisis, and global warming are all showing us that the old system is broken. This is our chance to build in a way that’s better for people, for the economy, and for the climate.”
The U.S. already spends $70 billion a year on transportation infrastructure, and many are calling on Congress to do what has been done in every recent recession and invest still more to simulate economic recovery. However, simply using that money to build highway projects conceived in the last century is unlikely to help, the T4 coalition warned.
Build for America calls for investment in public transit, high-speed and intercity rail, neighborhoods that are less car-dependent, more walkable and more affordable, and restoring the thousands of roads and bridges in failing condition across the United States. Specifically, Greenbelt Alliance, CALPIRG, Reconnecting America, Apollo Alliance and other T4 partners are asking the next President and Congress to work together to:
1. BUILD TO COMPETE with China and Europe, by modernizing and expanding our rail and transit networks to reduce oil dependence, connect the metro regions that are the engines of the modern economy.
2. INVEST FOR A CLEAN, GREEN RECOVERY through cleaner vehicles and new fuels as well as the cleanest forms of transportation – modern public transit, walking and biking – and for energy-efficient, sustainable development.
3. FIX WHAT’S BROKEN before building new roads and restore our crumbling highways, bridges and transit systems.
4. STOP WASTEFUL SPENDING and re-evaluate projects currently in the pipeline to eliminate those with little economic return that could deepen our oil dependence.
5. SAVE AMERICANS MONEY. Provide more travel and housing options that are affordable and efficient, while helping people to avoid high gas costs and traffic congestion. Save taxpayer dollars by asking the private developers who reap real estate rewards from new rail stations and transit lines to contribute toward that service.
Discussion has already begun on the next big transportation bill to be voted on by Congress in 2009. In the meantime, Bay Area voters are also considering several local and statewide transportation-related ballot measures in the upcoming election.
“California has the opportunity to lead the rest of the nation, and boost our own local economy, by investing in high-speed rail this November,” said Emily Rusch, Transportation Advocate for CALPIRG. “High-speed rail would take millions of car trips off the road, reduce pollution, and create thousands of new jobs throughout the state.”
In addition to the organizations, Melanie Nutter, Deputy District Director for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, spoke on behalf of the Speaker at the event today. Other San Francisco Bay Area leaders also joined the coalition in calling for transportation investments to boost the economy.
“I applaud this broad coalition of groups for joining together to call for increased investment in our transportation infrastructure,” said Rep. Ellen Tauscher (CA-10), the senior Northern Californian on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The economic engine of California relies on a well-maintained transportation system. Especially during these tough economic times, we need to invest in public transit to provide more transportation options, create jobs, and protect our environment.”
“Just this year, the California legislature passed our new ‘Complete Streets’ bill that requires cities and counties to plan for non-motorized transportation such as walking and biking when mapping future roadway projects,” said Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). “We need to chart a bold new course at the national level as well. We must invest wisely in transportation alternatives such as high speed rail, public transit, and plug-in hybrid infrastructure to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and get our economy back on track.”
Events similar to the one held in San Francisco are happening in 10 other cities today, including New York, Atlanta, Columbus (Ohio), Chicago, Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Seattle.
For more information or to download the complete Build for America booklet, please visit BuildforAmerica.Org.
For 50 years, Greenbelt Alliance has been the San Francisco Bay Area’s advocate for open spaces and vibrant places, with offices in San Francisco, San Jose, Walnut Creek, San Rafael, and Santa Rosa. www.greenbelt.org
Transportation for America (T4) is a broad coalition of housing, environmental, public health, urban planning, transportation and other organizations focused on creating a 21st century national transportation program. T4’s goal is to build a modernized infrastructure and healthy communities where people can live, work and play by aligning national, state, and local transportation policies with an array of issues like economic opportunity, climate change, energy security, health, housing and community development. www.t4america.org.
The California Public Interest Research Group is a statewide non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group that stands up to powerful interests.