LaHood to Streetsblog: No I’m Not Changing the Name of My Blog

lahood_abny.jpgPhoto: Danny Bright

I’ll add a few more impressions to Bobby Cuza’s report on yesterday’s ABNY breakfast with federal transportation secretary Ray LaHood.

U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, made his morning
commute to New York City on the LaGuardia shuttle. "Not a bad way to
come," he told the ABNY crowd, before adding, "Train or shuttle. We’ve
done it both ways."

Here are a few notes from LaHood’s talk and my brief conversation with him afterward:

  • NY1 gave prominent play to LaHood’s comment about New York City’s $354 million in congestion pricing money still being available
    but, to be clear, this wasn’t a major point of his talk. It was
    actually more of a side note in response to Council member Dan
    Garodnick’s question about whether the Obama Administration would
    continue the Urban Partnership program’s effort "to create the
    incentives to move people out of their cars and onto transit."
    Regarding the hundreds of millions of dollars that our geniuses up in Albany
    rejected last year, LaHood said, "That money is still sitting around.
    It’s on the table somewhere. I think it’s in our office still. We
    offered it up to Chicago but like New York they couldn’t get their act together."
  • U.S.
    DOT is teaming up with former Bloomberg Administration all-star Shaun
    Donovan at HUD to focus on transit-oriented affordable housing. LaHood
    framed this project as going "hand in hand" with the Obama
    Administration’s commitment to high-speed rail. Donovan, LaHood said,
    is "one of the most innovative people in America; a very creative
    fellow."
  • LaHood said almost nothing about the
    upcoming federal transportation bill except that DOT is taking "a hard
    look at how we fund transportation" and they want "to give cities like
    New York more flexibility in how they spend Uncle Sam’s dollars."
  • Though
    you don’t really get the sense that LaHood lives and
    breathes
    transportation policy like, say, New York City’s Janette Sadik-Khan, a
    lot of the right
    words are coming out of his mouth these days. Yesterday’s
    talk wasn’t limited to roads, bridges and zillion dollar mega-projects.
    The Obama Administration, he said, is committed to a transportation
    policy that will "enhance mobility, support a cleaner environment and
    help make our communities more livable." LaHood is
    clearly making the connection between transportation policy and urban
    development. He said (and I’m condensing this a little bit): "What
    we’re trying to do is take some of the resources we have on the
    transit side and connect them with what Secretary Donovan wants to do.
    We want to create livable
    communities. Portland is really the model for it. We want to create
    housing opportunities so that people can walk out their front doors and
    go wherever they want to go without getting into an automobile. That’s
    really the goal."

Amen, Secretary.

After
the talk I introduced myself and Streetsblog to LaHood and told him
that we’d like to sit down with him for a Q&A in Washington D.C.
some time soon. LaHood said that he had his own blog too, The Fast Lane. Had I seen it?

"Of course," I said. "Streetsblog readers are big fans. But what do you think about changing the name of your blog to The Fast Track?"

Someone
in the background, I think one of his staffers, laughed. LaHood stopped
walking and gave me what I took to be a who-is-this-insane-person kind
of look.

"We think Fast Lane works pretty
well," he said, and headed off to a medal ceremony for the ferry crew
members who rescued US Air Flight 1549 in the Hudson River last winter.
 

All I’m saying is think about it, Ray. Think about it.

  • Hey Ray, I promise it’s okay to be progressive about transportation policy. Millions of us love your ability to *at least* articulate common sense solutions. Go ahead, follow though. This country will thrive because of your leadership.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

STREETSBLOG USA

LaHood Reaches Out to Transit Industry, Lamenting ‘Lousy Economy’

|
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood sought to commiserate with the cash-strapped transit industry today, declaring the Obama administration an ally of local rail and bus agencies even as the "lousy economy" clouds prospects for passage of a new long-term federal transportation bill. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (Photo: Getty Images) In an address to the American Public […]
STREETSBLOG USA

LaHood Kicks Off National Bike Summit

|
On the first night of the National Bike Summit, Secretary Ray LaHood told an enormous hotel ballroom filled with cycling advocates about his childhood riding bikes in Peoria, Illinois and reminded them that they need to work harder than ever to convince Congress to support cycling. Sec. LaHood immediately after addressing the Bike Summit. Photo […]
STREETSBLOG USA

LaHood Defends High-Speed Rail Program At House Hearing

|
It’s Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s birthday, and he’s spending it testifying before the House Transportation Committee. The hearing is on “Mistakes & Lessons Learned” from the high-speed rail program, but — no surprise here — LaHood and House Republicans have differing ideas about what “mistakes” have been made. Here are some highlights. Chair John Mica […]