Thursday, October 1, 2009

Strengthening the Detroit Metro Region through a Call for Federal Transportation Policy Reform

The nation’s existing surface transportation law SAFETEA-LU expired yesterday, and while Congressional action on reauthorization remains muddled and misguided NTPP is continuing to engage key transportation decision makers across the country in discussions about future policies necessary to shape our nation’s transportation system.

We most recently held a public forum in Detroit on September 21st to discuss our blueprint for reform entitled, Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy, and the impact of our recommendations on the Detroit metro region. This forum was the second to be held in a series of events that we are holding across the country. It attracted leading local, state and national transportation policymakers, academics, and other key transportation stakeholders, as well as the interested public.

Panelists who spoke at the Detroit event agreed that reforming federal transportation policy is critical, not only for maintaining necessary infrastructure in the State of Michigan, but for stabilizing the region and the nation's economy. During the event NTPP Co-Chairman and former Mayor of Detroit Dennis Archer stated that “the current structure of federal transportation programs does not recognize the key role that transportation investment plays in economic growth and access to jobs. Detroit would benefit from a program and funding framework that is based on economic performance and outcomes.”

Our recommendations call for U.S. transportation policy to be more performance-driven, more directly linked to a set of clearly articulated goals, and more accountable for results. One of the goals of our framework is that transportation investment be measured and held accountable for generating economic growth. Speakers at the forum urged local citizens, as well as Congress, to push for these recommendations in the next transportation bill.

This event was held in downtown Detroit, in partnership with the Detroit Regional Chamber. It attracted transportation experts from across the state including: State Representative and Chair of the House Transportation Committee Pam Byrnes; Gregory Johnson, Chief Operations Officer for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT); Paul Tait, Executive Director of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments; John Woodrooffe, Head of the Transportation Safety Analysis Division at the University of Michigan; Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano; Richard Wallace, Senior Project Manager at the Center of Automotive Research; and Tim Johnson, Strategic Opportunity Manager for the Sprint Nextel Corporation.

A full video recording of the event can be viewed here.

A number of news pieces ran in the days preceding and following the Detroit NTPP forum:

Map a new course for U.S. transportation funds,

Detroit Free Press by Dennis Archer

Federal policies ignore transportation’s role in economic growth, ex-mayor says,

Crain’s Detroit Business by Bill Shea

State help sought to reform U.S. transportation funding,

Detroit Free Press by Matt Helms

The next NTPP forum will take place in Minneapolis on Monday, November 23rd at the University of Minnesota.