Chairman Rockefeller's Statement on The Future of National Surface Transportation Policy

April 28, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee hearing today on The Future of National Surface Transportation Policy.  Senator John D (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Chairman of the U.S. Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, was unable to attend today’s hearing but issued a statement in his absence:

“I am excited about today’s hearing and regret that I cannot be in attendance.  Our national surface transportation system provides the physical foundation for our economy, allowing people and goods to move throughout the country.  Unfortunately, investment has not kept up with demand in the system over the past few decades.  As a result, our physical infrastructure is in disrepair, congestion plagues our highways, ports, and railroads, and limited financial resources are available to fix the broken system.  In addition, the transportation sector continues to be the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the United States. 

“The upcoming reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs is a prime opportunity to prepare our transportation system for 21st century demands. With an additional 120 million people in the country expected by 2050, significant changes must be made to make sure movement remains accessible, efficient, and affordable.  In order to correct our existing shortcomings and prepare our system for the next generation of users, we must set far-reaching goals and objectives that span across individual modes and develop reliable standards and methods for attaining them.  We must take a holistic approach to solving our transportation challenges, especially furthering the connection to our rural communities, in order to remain competitive in a global economy, reduce the consequences of climate change, and maintain safety and efficiency in our daily lives.

“I recognize the hard work Senator Lautenberg has done to make intercity passenger rail a more viable transportation alternative throughout the country, and look forward to working with him closely to prepare our entire transportation system for the next 50 years.”