GBC-sponsored NE conference hears warnings over transportation infrastructure

Pennsylvania’s governor and a Democratic congressman from Oregon issued twin warnings on February 29 in Baltimore that the U.S. must face up to the increasingly critical need to maintain its deteriorating transportation infrastructure.

The United States must triple its spending over the next 10 years just to maintain its bridges, roads and transit systems, Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor Ed Rendell told participants in the 2nd Annual Northeast Climate and Competitiveness Conference held at the Tremont Grand.

The annual conference – a summit meeting of civic, business and government leaders from 12 northeast states – is designed to collectively find common policy ground between environmental issues and the need for economic competitiveness in meeting urgent challenges facing the northeast “megaregion” and the nation. The Baltimore conference was co-sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Rendell, the luncheon keynote speaker, contends that for every $1 billion in federal investment in transportation infrastructure, 47,000 new jobs are created. He recently organized the “Building America’s Future” coalition along with Republican New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California’s Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The nonprofit, nonpartisan group is keyed to promoting federal investment in infrastructure.

Earlier, the morning keynote speaker, Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat, delivered a similar message. He stressed the need to focus the attention of the country on infrastructure and transportation issues as bridges, roadways and transit infrastructure all begin to deteriorate. He noted similarities to earlier foundational decisions in American history and encouraged an activist national program to address these issues.

The summit also hosted several round table discussions on topics including the future of Amtrak, the upcoming federal transportation funding reauthorization by Congress, climate change, carbon sequestration and land preservation, the subprime mortgage crisis and affordable housing.

The Climate and Competitiveness summits are based on a joint venture of the Lincoln Institute and the America 2050 initiative of the Regional Plan Association of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut that promotes planning in large “megaregions,” such as the Boston-Washington, D.C. corridor and that transcend multiple state borders.


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