Political Leaders Urge Focus on Sustainable Transportation

Posted September 3, 2008 at 8:09pm

Political leaders and experts today debated how best to encourage sustainable transportation with as little disruption to the environment as possible.

At a panel discussion sponsored today by the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, former Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.) said that more transportation, and more transportation options, must be made available in cities, though he also said the nation needs to break its oil dependency first.

Ninety-five percent of our transportation is dependent on oil, two-thirds of which comes from foreign sources, Gorton said.

“We must connect transportation with smart development, smart growth and public policy. … The starting point is recognizing the incredible error in public policy and that the policies we have today are fundamentally broken, said Bruce Katz, vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (D) suggested there is room for private investors, even though transportation should primarily be a government investment to jump-start the economy of cities.

One panelist — House Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member John Mica (R-Fla.) — blamed transportation for his tardiness in arriving.

“It’s hell getting around any city with all the congestion,” Mica said.