On behalf of Metro, Mayor talks infrastructure and 30/10 Initiative at White House this morning

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Director Antonio Villaraigosa at a White House press briefing this morning. Immediately to his left is U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

President Barack Obama held a meeting at the White House this morning on investing in the nation’s infrastructure — a follow-up to his Labor Day announcement of a plan to rebuild the country’s roads and rails. Among those in attendance was Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraiogosa, who also serves on the Board of Directors of Metro.

Villaraigosa, of course, was there to put in a good word for the 30/10 Initiative, the policy that Metro is pursuing to accelerate the construction of Measure R road and transit projects by using federal loans and other financing. Villaraigosa and Metro are also pushing 30/10 as a national program that could help other regions use their tax revenues plus federal help to get their transportation projects built now, not later.

Besides the president, there were some other heavy hitters at the meeting, including Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, former Secretaries of Transportation Norman Mineta and Samuel Skinner, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, and Mayors Antonio Villaraigosa, Mick Cornett (Oklahoma City), Julian Castro (San Antonio), Michael Coleman (Columbus), Michael Nutter (Philadelphia), Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Baltimore), Kasim Reed (Atlanta) and Joe Riley (Charleston).

“We need a new plan for America’s roads, rails and runways for the long-term,” Obama said (here’s the link to the White House press release). “Over the next six years, we will rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads – enough to circle the world six times.  We will lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways – enough to stretch coast-to-coast.  And we will restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next generation air-traffic control system that reduces delays for the American people.  By making these investments across the country, we won’t just make our economy run better over the long haul – we’ll create good, middle-class jobs right now.”

Both the president’s plan and 30/10 will almost certainly need some legislative help in the next federal transportation bill, which is due to be tackled by Congress next year.