President Obama calls on Congress to pass transportation spending bill


As many of you know, a multiyear federal transportation bill was last approved by Congress in 2005. The followup to that bill should have been signed into law in 2009 but Congress has never been able to agree on the size and scope of the bill. So nothing has happened.

With the national economy still sputtering and job creation at the forefront of the national conversation these days, President Barack Obama this morning called on Congress to finally get a new transportation bill to his desk. See the above video.

There are outlines of such a bill that have been produced in recent weeks by the House and Senate — albeit starkly different versions. Metro is keeping an eye on the bill because the agency is hoping the bill will make the America Fast Forward the law of the land.

The plan would allow Metro and other transit agencies to use federal loans and financing to speed up construction of transportation projects. The logic behind it is simple: projects will be cheaper to build now rather than later and building now will create much-needed construction jobs.

Thus far, the outlines that Metro has seen have elements of America Fast Forward but not the entire program.

On a similar note, the U.S. Conference of Mayors have written a letter to Congress imploring them to get moving on a transportation bill. The Conference of Mayors is currently chaired by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also is the current chairman of the Metro Board of Directors.