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At a Fifty Forward forum on transportation, Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, was candid with some 500 regional leaders about opportunities and barriers to mobility. He brought resources, urged leaders to be proactive and pledged to cut red tape at the federal level to get things moving.
LaHood said that livability would be a major watchword for transportation moving forward and hopes that other communities will examine programs like ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative. He also expressed the administration’s support of more transit alternatives and said that Georgia needs to “get its act together,” if it wants to be part of the federal government’s ambitious high-speed rail plans.
LaHood, who participated in a panel discussion with Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Cobb County Commission Chairman/ARC Chairman Sam Olens, encouraged the audience to put personal agendas and egos aside and work toward common goals. He promised that if the Atlanta region’s leadership could work together, he would help “cut through the red tape,” in Washington to assist us in reaching our transportation vision.
The Future of Transportation Founded as a railroad hub, the Atlanta region’s prosperity has always relied on transportation. That is certainly the case today as we search for safe, efficient transportation systems that will enable the region to sustain and enhance its livability and mobility.
One of the largest factors sure to impact metro Atlanta’s transportation future is the shifting federal policy environment. According to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who spoke at a forum on the future of transportation in the Atlanta region, federal policy is moving in the direction of a more holistic and sustainable approach to transportation infrastructure. This new direction includes closer ties between land use planning and transportation planning, as well as a greater emphasis on walkability and transit. Based on the feedback from Fifty Forward participants, most believe the new approach to be a sound one.
For our economy to thrive workers must be able to get to their jobs and goods need to be transported to store shelves. For our social and civic systems to function, people old and young from all economic strata must have access to services like healthcare and education. And, for our environment to function, we have to identify mobility solutions that minimize negative environmental impacts. In short, if we are to create a more sustainable region, we will need to develop a more sustainable transportation system.
Just as it has been central to our history, transportation continues to be viewed as one of the top issues facing our region now and over the coming decades. The tremendous growth our region has seen since the 1950s has positioned metro Atlanta as a transportation hub for not only the Southeast, but for the nation and the globe. However, the world is changing and so is our region. What will a sustainable transportation system that serves the region’s economic, societal and environmental needs look like 50 years from now? The answer to that question depends on the answers to others: