July 20, 2016
Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood denounced the parts of his party’s platform having to do with transportation on Tuesday, saying it’s out of step with what most younger Americans want — walkable neighborhoods where people don’t always need a car to get around.
The former congressman from Peoria, Ill., and member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet during his first term, said the GOP simply has not caught up to national and international trends. He also called for an increase in the gas tax, saying fuel-efficient cars have removed much of the capital federal, state and local governments need to build roads, bridges, pedestrian and transit infrastructure.
“The leadership has been more highway-centric or bridge-centric,” LaHood said in an interview after a luncheon sponsored by the National League of Cities that also featured Fort Worth, Texas Mayor Betsy Price and Oklahoma City MayorMick Cornett, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, both Republicans. “If they start listening to mayors and start listening to their constituents, they’re going to find bike shares are very popular in cities, walking and biking paths are very popular, transit is very popular.”
Price did not directly criticize the GOP platform but also extolled the virtues of light rail, which her city now has access to, and bike share programs.
Price recited common arguments against government investing in buses, rails and bikes: People aren’t going to want to ride bikes in the 100-degree Texas heat, and they won’t take a train when they’ve got a car.
“We simply cannot pour enough concrete to accommodate the amount of cars we have,” Price said. “Most young folks will tell you they want to own one car. In Texas, that’s almost anarchic. We never would have light rail in Forth Worth … until the millennials or the aging baby boomers. They want to age in place. We need rail.”
Price said such issues should be nonpartisan.
“It’s a little like potholes,” Price said. “Potholes don’t care if you put an R or a D on them, they just want to be filled.”