Why Obama’s “Fix it First” Approach to Infrastructure Matters

Everyone watching the President’s State of the Union address last night was looking for hints about what’s to come during his second term. And the good news is that what he had to say left advocates for safe, sustainable transportation feeling hopeful.

David Goldberg at Transportation for America said the President used some important phrases. Chief among them: “Fix it First.”

Obama was using the right words in his State of the Union speech last night. Image: ##http://www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2013## Whitehouse.gov##

It did our hearts good to hear the President talk about creating a Fix-it-First program (where have we heard that before?) that will focus on the health of our infrastructure, such as the 70,000 structurally deficient bridges. As we’ve noted, there are more such bridges scattered around the country than there are McDonald’s, nearly one in ten bridges.

Transit systems, too, are suffering from decay after a long recession that saw budgets cut to the bone and beyond. Our ports and freight networks need help, too. So, again, we were very pleased to hear the announcement of a focus on the upkeep of our key transportation networks – helping to ensure repair of existing infrastructure remains a priority.

The President’s pledge to put people to working to “fix it first” was a great applause line and brought members of both parties to their feet. We look forward to learning more about the President’s proposal, and hope the applause can be translated into votes.

Given the success that the road lobby still enjoys in states that continue to expand highways while neglecting maintenance, it would be interesting to see how Obama’s speech can turn into meaningful action.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Systemic Failure says Stamford, Connecticut, is throwing away a prime transit-oriented development opportunity. Human Transit weighs in on the recent press attention to NYC subway deaths. And Rights of Way reports that Portland, Maine, is the newest city to consider bike-sharing.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

President Obama Proposes a “Fix-It-First” Program For Roads

|
In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama launched a “Fix-It-First” program to repair aging infrastructure and put people to work. The president even took an indirect jab at officials who would rather build new than fix existing infrastructure, saying, “I know you want these job-creating projects in your district; I’ve seen all […]

Would Dems’ Pledge for “Change” Bring Transportation Reform?

|
Hillary Clinton ad now airing in Southern California  This is part two of a two-part series on where candidates for president stand on transportation issues, authored by Streetsblog Los Angeles correspondent Damien Newton. Damien currently runs the blog Street Heat, which is soon to become Streetsblog L.A., our first foray into foreign territory. Damien was […]

AASHTO Chief: Don’t Blame Street Design for Cyclist Deaths

|
This is a pretty revealing (read: depressing) exchange between a U.S. representative and the president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which represents state DOTs. The transportation agencies that comprise AASHTO essentially dictate how streets are designed throughout the U.S. They are aware that pedestrian and cyclist deaths are not declining as fast as total traffic fatalities. […]