Hillary Clinton Announces Rebuild America Plan
Rochester, NH-- In response to the tragic bridge collapse in Minnesota and the concerns it has raised around the country, Hillary Clinton today announced a series of emergency initiatives to ensure that the bridges, tunnels, and roads Americans rely on are safe. These initiatives are part of a broad plan for rebuilding America. Hillary’s plan will not only assure our safety, but create good jobs, stimulate the economy, enhance our global competitiveness, help the environment, and improve quality of life by reducing congestion.
"Something is very, very wrong when, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, in the richest country on earth, people are actually nervous about driving over bridges for fear that they’ll collapse. Or they’re worried that their levees may burst, or their highways may buckle. And let’s be clear: the degradation of our infrastructure isn’t just a serious threat to our safety - it is also a grave threat to our economy," Clinton said. "We do not need any more warnings. We do not need any more wakeup calls. It is time to stop wringing our hands and start rolling up our sleeves. It is time for us to rebuild America."
The bridge collapse in Minnesota underscores the necessity of a renewed national commitment to repairing and modernizing our infrastructure. The impact of Katrina on New Orleans was also a dramatic demonstration of the economic, environmental, and social consequences of our underinvestment. Hillary believes that we should not have to wait for bridge collapses and other disasters to focus on the state of our infrastructure. America needs a comprehensive infrastructure policy for the 21st Century.
More than a quarter of our bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Public transit systems are under-funded and insufficiently integrated into local land use policy. Highway expansion has not kept pace with traffic growth. Seaports are too capacity constrained and technologically inefficient for a nation deriving a quarter of its gross domestic product from international trade. Waterway repairs are so long overdue that half of the nation’s locks are now functionally obsolete. Freight rail capacity constraints are slowing down commerce. And inter-city passenger rail is underdeveloped, meaning increased highway congestion and lost opportunities to create new jobs.
Hillary Clinton is announcing her Rebuild America Plan to address these challenges:
Emergency Initiatives Addressing Safety:
Establish a $10 billion "Emergency Repair Fund" to address the backlog of critical infrastructure repairs. There is a significant infrastructure funding gap, and it applies to everything from roads and bridges, to waterways and seaports. The under investment harms our economy and compromises our safety. There is an urgent need to repair and upgrade more than 60,000 bridges the Federal Highway Administration classifies as “structurally deficient.” Hillary will invest $10 billion over 10 years to finance the redesign and reconstruction of these structures. She will end the “repair-only-when-it-fails” policy that defers critical repairs because funding is unavailable.
Provide $250 million in "Emergency Assessment Grants" to the states to conduct immediate safety reviews of their high-priority, high-risk infrastructure assets. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) has issued an advisory that urges state transportation departments to inspect bridges similar to the one that collapsed in Minnesota. Hillary Clinton proposes $250 million of “Emergency Assessment Grants” to help states conduct emergency infrastructure reviews of bridges and other critical infrastructure to ensure their immediate safety. These grants should be available with a priority-procurement status so they can be put to use as quickly as possible. If more funding is needed, Hillary will allow states and local governments the flexibility of using existing federal infrastructure funding.
Form a commission to carry out a comprehensive assessment of our engineering review standards so that we better prioritize needed repairs on bridges and roads. Recent events highlight the need to assess the integrity of our infrastructure and of prioritizing repairs to protect the safety of users. These events also suggest that we need to review our safety certification process and standards. The bridge collapse is only the most recent example of safety lapses. Last July, tons of concrete fell from the ceiling of Boston’s new tunnel and crushed a woman in her car. Hillary Clinton will establish a commission, under the auspices of the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, to review the safety certification process and standards. The commission will also address the prioritization of needed repairs to roads and bridges, and make recommendations on how best to inspect, monitor, and maintain infrastructure on an ongoing basis.
Modernizing Our Infrastructure:
Increase federal funding for public transit by $1.5 billion per year. Increased public transit usage is arguably the best strategy for ameliorating the energy and environmental costs of transportation. As energy costs rise, more people will rely on public transportation. Today, only 5% of Americans commute by public transit, but doubling that figure could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25%. Public transit is also critically important to people who live in urban areas and rely on buses and trains for travel to work and school. Moreover, as the population ages, an increasing number of people will need public transit as their ability to drive diminishes. Hillary will increase federal investment in public transit by $1.5 billion per year to ensure needed capacity expansions and service level improvements.
Link federal public transit funds to local land use policies that encourage residential developments that maximize public transit usage. Over the next 25 years, a large percentage of the buildings we live, work, and shop in will be rebuilt or newly built. This presents a significant opportunity for the federal government to encourage sensible residential and commercial development that are linked to, and encourage, public transit usage. Local areas seeking large federal investments in public transit are already required to have land-use plans and policies that make investing in a high-density transit system worthwhile. Today, these requirements are focused mainly on commercial developments and not enough on residential considerations. Hillary will encourage the sort of dense residential concentrations needed to support public transit systems by better linking public transit funding with residential land-use policies. This will help to discourage sprawl and fight congestion.
Intercity Passenger Rail
Invest an additional $1 billion in intercity passenger rail systems. In the 21st Century, intercity passenger rail should be a viewed as a critical component of the nation’s transportation system. It is an environmentally efficient alternative to highway driving and short flights; it relieves congestion on roads and airports; reduces the emission of automotive pollutants; and it stimulates economic growth by linking metropolitan areas. States have been left to pursue intercity rail projects with only modest federal support. Hillary believes that greater federal involvement is needed to maximize the potential of this transportation mode. She will increase federal investment in intercity passenger rail by $1 billion over 5 years in order to help finance capital projects. These investments are in addition to those made in Amtrak.
Partner with state and local governments and the private sector to create a national policy to guide the modernization of ports. Given the importance of foreign trade to our economy (26% of GDP), ports should be a priority for the federal government. The movement of freight by sea is expected to triple by 2020. Today, a large number of ports are in substandard condition. Many are cramped; navigation channels are narrow; harbors are too shallow for larger ships; access routes are congested; and investments in waterway managements have been low. Hillary will work with state and local governments and the private sector to devise a coherent and comprehensive national policy to expand our port capacity and our port-to-nation transportation connections. She will also work with industry to improve port productivity through such things as the deployment of new technology and by addressing congestion at the major terminals.
Addressing Congestion and Traffic Growth:
Increase the budget for the Department of Transportation’s congestion reduction programs by approximately 50% to $600 million annually. Federal support for innovative state and local congestion-reduction initiatives flows principally through two programs: Urban Partnerships and the Value Pricing Pilot Program. The combined budget for these two programs is approximately $400 million. Hillary will increase the budgets by 50% to $600 million annually to enable the programs to provide greater support to a larger number of cities and states devising innovative solutions to congestion.
Make "technology solutions" to congestion a priority for the Department of Transportation. Congestion is adding about 37% to the length of the average trip during peak hours, a three-fold increase from 1983. Road construction alone cannot be the solution to congestion because it is costly and environmentally impractical. Also, capacity additions alone will not eliminate congestion problems because traffic disruptions from things like weather, breakdowns, and road work account for one third to one half of all delays. Many traffic disruptions can be addressed by using advanced technologies to collect and relay real-time information on road and travel conditions. Also sophisticated traffic lanes management and more rapid incident clearance are shown to significantly reduce congestion. Electronic toll systems reduce backup at toll booths. In sum, the roadways of the future must integrate smart technology. Hillary will make developing and implementing technology-based congestion-reduction strategies a priority for the Department of Transportation.
Promote telecommuting by encouraging its use at federal agencies, and by committing up to $50 million per year to support state and local initiatives. Work travel imposes a greater service requirement on the transportation system than any other travel purpose. Telecommuting, the use of information technology to replace work-related travel, can ameliorate congestion and air pollution by reducing rush-hour car trips. Telecommuting can also benefit employers by reducing office space needs and increasing worker productivity. Hillary Clinton will promote telecommuting by requiring the federal agencies to set specific telecommuting goals for their workforces, and she will require that each agency task a senior manager with oversight of its telecommuting policies. Hillary will also invest up to $50 million annually in state and local telecommuting initiatives.
Support initiatives to establish leadership in broadband. Under the Bush administration, the country that invented the Internet has slipped to 25th in the global rankings for broadband deployment. In order to accelerate the deployment of sophisticated networks, Hillary Clinton will provide tax incentives to encourage broadband deployment in underserved areas. She will also provide financial support for state and local broadband initiatives.
In addition to the policies announced today, as Senator, Hillary has cosponsored the National Infrastructure Bank Act of 2007. The Act establishes a federally-backed independent entity that will evaluate and finance large infrastructure projects that are of regional or national significance. The bank will finance projects through the issuance of bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, direct subsidies, and loan guarantees.