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April 16, 2012

Banking on Our Region’s Future

The transportation infrastructure issues across our region must be addressed swiftly.  The wealth of jobs to be created by improving our roadways, bridges, rail lines, and other public transit would be a welcome economic boost, thereby strengthening the region as a whole.

Additionally, our seat as the nation’s capital – the city proper as well as the dense, surrounding suburbs – makes this a national security issue, as we are all a potential target of a terrorist attack.

Further, the commuter gridlock we faced in this region after the Virginia earthquake in August 2011 and during the snowstorm in January 2011 were recent examples of the great public safety risk inherent in modes of transit in a crisis.  If there were a major bridge collapse, train derailment or airline runway accident during these times, the frustration would have been coupled with a devastating tragedy.

We can and must avoid those dire possibilities.

Infrastructure investment – and how the integrity of its funding must be protected – is one of our region’s most pressing issues.  Virginia has created its own Transportation Infrastructure Bank, “created for the purpose of making loans and other financial assistance to localities, certain private entities and other eligible borrowers and grants to localities to finance transportation projects.”

What we need is a regional infrastructure bank – D.C., Maryland, Virginia and the Federal Government – and the appropriate officials within these jurisdictions should come together to prioritize the actions needed to make decisions collectively.

Virginia is leading the way, but Maryland, D.C., and the Federal Government must also come to the table.  Together they should design a way to meet the transportation needs across the entire region – and figure out how to pay for it.

Tomorrow, April 17, at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy, Our Nation’s Capital, COG, and other regional organizations are sponsoring a forum on Infrastructure Banks and their usefulness. Our president, Bob Buchanan, is one of the speakers, and it should prove to be a valuable engagement that sheds light on the need for alternative funding avenues for our region’s future. Register here.

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